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7JetSet7 Code: FAA
Status: Operational
Country: USA
Employees 47000

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FAA-2011-02-JBL ADS B
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FAA-2011-10 - DOJ LOGO
FAA-2012-09 - AAL IPAD EFB
FAA-2012-12 - 737 AD
FAA-2013-03 - 787 OK-A
FAA-2013-10 - PED OK
FAA-2014-11 - FAA TYPE CERT FOR A350-900
FAA-2015-08 - ETH 787 Fire Report-A.jpg
FAA-2015-08 - ETH 787 Fire Report-B.jpg
FAA-2015-12 - UAV Registration.jpg
FAA-2016-04 - 787 Engine AD-A.jpg
FAA-2016-04 - 787 Engine AD-B.jpg
FAA-2016-04 - 787 Engine AD-C.jpg
FAA-2017-05 - Separation of ATC from FAA.jpg
FAA-2018-03 FAA HQ Wahington DC.jpg


The USA (United States of America) was established in 1776, it covers an area of 9,363,123 sq km, its population is 280 million, its capital city is Washington DC, and its official language is English.


July 2002: 1 DC-10-40 (46768) bought from Northwest Airlines (NWA) for destructive testing.

November 2002: 1 737-275 (21639), ex-Air Canada (ACN).

April 2004: The (FAA) introduced a new Internet-based Forecast Icing Tool that enables aviation meteorologists and airline dispatchers to warn pilots about icing hazards up to 12 hours in advance.

June 2004: Selected "Precise Flight" to participate in a demo of the use of an airplane's external lighting for improved conspicuity on the airport surface.

December 2005: The (FAA) awarded a $1.35 million contract to AeroSat Airborne Internet to demonstrate and evaluate basic concepts and components of the Airborne Internet System. The one-year contract calls for AeroSat to conduct Airborne Internet flight demonstrations on (FAA) airplanes. Data will be exchanged between the air and ground at 45 megabits per second then passed from airplane to airplane, "exhibiting a full range of communications that previously have required the use of satellites."

January 2006: The USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued an "urgent safety recommendation" to the (FAA), requesting that the (FAA) "prohibit airlines from using credit for the use of thrust reversers when calculating stopping distances on contaminated runways." The recommendation comes out of the (NTSB)'s continuing investigation into the December 8, Southwest Airlines (SWA) runway overrun accident at Chicago Midway. According to the (NTSB), the (FAA) does not allow the use of the reverse thrust credit when determining dispatch landing distances. However, it does permit the credit for calculating en route operational landing distances for some commercial airplanes like the 737-700. Using their on board laptop performance computer, the (SWA) pilots (FC) concluded they could land safely using thrust reversers. But in actuality, the reversers did not deploy until 18 seconds after touchdown and the airplane crashed through a perimeter fence and onto a roadway where it stuck 2 vehicles, killing a 6-year-old passenger in 1 of them. Given the runway conditions at the time of the accident, the (NTSB) said that "if the thrust reverser credit had not been allowed in calculating the stopping distance for flight 1248, the (OPC) would have indicated that a safe landing on runway 31C was not possible." It concluded: "As a result, a single event, the delayed deployment of the thrust reversers, can lead to an unsafe condition, as it did in this accident."

February 2006: The USA (FAA) announced a 5-year partnership with Ordinate Corporation of California to develop a standard Aviation English Test (AET). "This is another step in (FAA) support to (ICAO) member states, air carrier operators and air traffic service providers to help them meet the (ICAO) March 2008 English language proficiency requirement."

March 2006: The USA (FAA) announced that Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) use is being extended from the current 250 ft above an airport's surface down to 200 ft for instrument approaches for all users equipped with "appropriate" avionics. As a result, "(WAAS)-equipped commercial operators will gain access to Category I equivalent approach services at qualifying airports where there are no instrument landing systems." The (FAA) will expand the application of these lower minima approaches beyond current Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) airports. The 1st procedures that allow operations down to 200 ft will be published in 2007. "This is a significant milestone, moving us closer to our ultimate goal of a satellite-based airspace system," said (FAA) Administrator Marion Blakey.

April 2006: A series of fires aboard CRJ200s resulting in temporary loss of all cockpit (EFIS) displays on some of the affected airplanes, prompted the USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to urge the (FAA) to address the situation. According to the (NTSB), there have been 7 fires aboard CRJ200s, 6 of them within the past 6 months. Although none resulted in loss of life, "the potential exists for an uncontained fire to compromise the oxygen line, which could develop into an even more critical situation." All fires have involved the Ultem 2200 surface material of the 1K4XD contactors aboard the airplanes. 4 of the fires resulted in at least temporary loss of all (EFIS) displays.

The (NTSB) wants the (FAA) to require operators to provide separation of electrical power sources to prevent the simultaneous loss of (EFIS) displays and to require Bombardier to develop a means of protecting electrical terminals on the contactors from moisture-induced short circuits that have caused the fires. 4 of the 7 recommendations are classified as urgent. According to the Board, "Various forms of precipitation were present before the departure of each incident flight and when the main cabin door is open on the CRJ200, the forward cabin floor is exposed to the weather, leading to moisture accumulation in the avionics compartment."

The Indian government announced the signing of a memorandum of agreement with the USA providing for (FAA) assistance "in developing and modernizing civil aviation information in managerial, operation and technical areas."

May 2006: The USA (FAA)'s recent proposal to require airframe manufacturers to place life limits on their transport airplanes has sparked little industry response to date, although it marks a significant change in the way airplanes are regulated. The (FAA) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register on April 18 requiring design approval holders to "establish operational limits on transport category airplanes" in order to prevent "widespread fatigue damage" (WFD) of the type that led to the April 1988 Aloha Airlines (ALO) accident. Operation of airplanes beyond this limit "would be prohibited, unless operators have incorporated an extended operational limit into their maintenance programs." Under the (NPRM), design approval holders also would be required to determine if maintenance actions are needed to prevent (WFD) before an airplane reaches its operational limit.

The proposed rule applies to airplanes with an (MTOW) of >75,000 lbs, which excludes "about 1,600 regional jets," according to the (FAA). The (FAA) noted that a bit more than a quarter of these jets are at least 8 years old, while the oldest is 11 years old and has accumulated 26,000 cycles, "well below the existing design service goal of 60,000 flight cycles." At the current rate of usage, this airplane will be 25 years old before it reaches its design life goal.

In any case, the (FAA) has not limited operational life to the design service goal. It considered taking this step, but said that would "result in the removal of about 600 USA transport category airplanes at a cost of $7.6 billion or a present value of $3.4 billion." According to Airclaims' (CASE) database, the average age of the in-service USA airline jet fleet currently is 11 years and 16,707 cycles, although cargo and express airlines operate airplanes that are considerably older, including some in their 5th decade of service.

The (FAA) estimated the present value cost of complying with the (NPRM) at $360 million, with manufacturers incurring around 10% of this amount and operators 90%. It put the present value benefits at $809 million, consisting of $726 million of accident prevention benefits and $83 million of detection benefits "resulting from averted accidents and a reduction in unscheduled maintenance and repairs."

June 2006: The USA (FAA) raised the safety rating of Ecuador to Category 1 following a "reassessment" of the country's civil aviation authority.

Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS), as the program to modernize the USA air traffic control system is now known, will revolutionize the airways in the same way, that construction of the USA interstate highway system changed how people and goods move on the ground, outgoing Secretary of Transportation, Norman Mineta said. "We are moving from single-lane roads in the sky to multilane air highways ([only] this time, it is being done with technology, not asphalt and concrete)" Mineta declared.

(FAA) Administrator, Marion Blakey called (ADS-B) "the enabler" for (NGATS). Blakey, who announced last fall that (ADS-B) will be the cornerstone of future air traffic control, noted that it "will give us real-time cockpit displays of traffic information in the cockpit and on the ground."

Genesis for (NGATS) is the "Vision 100-Century of Aviation Re-authorization Act" passed in 2003 by Congress, that called for creation of the future system and proposed a public/private partnership to implement it managed by the Joint Planning and Development Office, which was created for that purpose.

July 2006: The USA Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is moving forward again with its proposal to require that it be given Advance Passenger Information (API) for USA-bound international flights, before airplanes take off, a switch from the current policy that requires the information to be relayed within 15 minutes after departure. The (DHS) last year tried to impose a requirement that (API) data be transmitted 60 minutes prior to departure, a step that would have required carriers to close flights 75 minutes before departure, but retreated in the face of overwhelming airline resistance. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) recently issued would require carriers to forward flight data between 15 and 60 minutes prior to departure. (DHS) said the proposal "simply changes the time within which the [passenger information] must be transmitted" and will allow USA authorities "to identify terrorists before they are en route to the USA." The (NPRM) will be open to a 30-day public comment period.

The USA (FAA) unveiled an Airspace Flow Program that the (FAA) said will result in fewer weather-related delays by allowing controllers more leeway in canceling or delaying flights. Using new computer technology, controllers will delay or cancel only those flights that "are expected to encounter extremely bad weather." Airplanes routed in the wider vicinity of major thunderstorms will be allowed to take off on time as long as (ATC) judges that they won't fly directly through the storm. Previously, such flights were delayed or cancelled. (FAA) Administrator, Marion Blakey said the program will save airlines and passengers "a combined total of >-$900 million" over 10 years, including -$20 million this year.

August 2006: The USA (FAA) is seeking to institute a new traffic control mechanism at New York LaGuardia (LGA) that would eliminate the current slot system and encourage airlines to operate larger airplanes into the crowded airport.

The (FAA)'s proposed rule, which would take effect on January 1, maintains the current hourly limit of 75 scheduled flights, but instead of airlines using slots to operate those flights, the (FAA) would create "operating authorizations" that would be granted "based on historic usage." The authorizations could be taken away if carriers use too many regional jets.

Unlike slots, which give carriers the right to operate a given number of flights, holders of operating authorizations would be required to meet airplane size targets and would be penalized if their airplanes are deemed too small.

"Although the airport cannot currently, or in the foreseeable future, accommodate a greater number of flight operations, the airport's terminal and ground side facilities could accommodate a greater number of passengers on the existing number of flights," wrote the (FAA) in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). "The use of [regional jets] arriving at LaGuardia from medium and large hub airports has increased by more than +50% since August 2001. This trend has resulted in under-utilization of airport facilities at LaGuardia."

The (FAA) said it is proposing the new rule because regulatory authority for the existing slot system is set to expire at year end, and not imposing a new system likely would lead to delays and "unacceptable" congestion. It said it is "seeking the legislative authority to conduct auctions or congestion pricing at (LGA) in the future" to regulate traffic over the "long term" but does not have such authority currently.

The (NPRM), which is in line with the (FAA)'s current authority over (LGA) operations, would hinge on provisions to encourage airlines to operate larger airplanes and would force compliance with an "airport wide target" for average flight capacity. "Each carrier's annual 'average seat size' would have to be equal to or greater than the airport wide target or the (FAA) would withdraw operating authorizations from the carrier," the (NPRM) said.

Exemptions from the requirement would be granted for authorizations "used for service to certain small and non-hub communities" to ensure these smaller markets maintain flights to (LGA).

The USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued "urgent" recommendations upon conclusion of its investigation into the uncontained (CF6-80A) failure in June on an American Airlines (AAL) 767 parked at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The (NTSB), in finding that the high-pressure turbine stage 1 disk rupture resulted from a rim-to-bore radial fracture originating at a "small dent" at the bottom of the blade slot and that the disk, which had accumulated 9,186 cycles in service, had two additional cracks, proposed that the (FAA) require that disks be removed for inspection every 3,000 cycles.

The (FAA) recommended that the disks be inspected after 6,900 cycles (they have a service life of 15,000 cycles) following the (LAX) incident. "This significantly more stringent standard would not permit disks to remain in service without inspection beyond the earliest known number of cycles at which cracks have been detected or failure has occurred," (NTSB) said.

September 2006: Mary Peters, a former Director of the USA Federal Highway Administration (FHA), yesterday was nominated as the next USA Transportation Secretary by President George Bush.

If confirmed by the Senate, Peters will replace the retired Norman Mineta, who left his post in July after >5 years on the job. She said she will focus on updating outdated infrastructure to alleviate congestion.

Peters most recently served as Director Transportation Policy for (HDR) Inc, an engineering and consulting firm. She was head of the Arizona Department of Transportation for 3 years beginning in 1998. Bush urged the Senate to confirm her quickly.

The USA (FAA) approved the AmSafe Child Aviation Restraint System safety device for use on commercial flights. The device features an additional belt and shoulder harness that wraps around the seat and attaches to the lap belt and is designed for children weighing 22 to 44 lbs.

October 2006: (FAA) Administrator Marion Blakey has established an Age 60 Aviation Rulemaking Committee composed of airline, labor and medical experts "to recommend whether the USA should adopt [ICAO's] new age standard that will allow 1 of 2 pilots (FC) on the flight deck to be >age 60."

The (ICAO) Council adopted the new standard to increase the upper age limit for airline pilots (FC) from 60 to 65 last March and it becomes applicable on November 23 to multi-crew operations.

The USA has had an age 60 cutoff since 1959 and the (FAA) has refused all previous efforts to have that limit raised. However, although the (FAA) may maintain the limit for USA airlines, it cannot prevent an airplane that is operated by a pilot-in-command holding a license from another (ICAO) member state who is over the age of 60 (and <65 years of age) with a copilot <60 years of age from flying in its airspace once the (ICAO) standard takes effect.

"The (FAA) must ensure that any future rule change, should it occur, provides an equal or better level of safety to passengers," Blakey said. The committee has been tasked to complete its work in 60 days.

December 2006: Airbus (EDS) received (EASA) and (FAA) certification for the A380 powered by the Rolls-Royce (RRC) (Trent 900), but festivities in Toulouse were clouded by a surprise morning raid by French police into parent (EADS) (EDS)'s Paris headquarters, part of an escalating insider trading investigation stemming from the A380 program's extensive delays.

The certification keeps Airbus (EDS) on track to deliver the 1st A380 to Singapore Airlines (SIA) in October 2007, >18 months behind the original delivery schedule. The A380 is the largest ever to be certified for passenger carriage.

(EADS) (EDS) co-(CEO) & Airbus (CEO), Louis Gallois did not shy away from the program's difficulties in his remarks at a Toulouse ceremony. "Its beginnings are overshadowed by a serious industrial problem," he conceded. "But from a technical point of view, we can now confirm the plane is meeting or even exceeding the expectations in terms of performance, range, environmental friendliness and cabin comfort."

(FAA) Administrator, Marion Blakey, who was present in Toulouse, called the A380 "the 1st major leap in airplane capacity in >35 years" and a "classic case of 21st century engineering." She noted that it was the 1st time (EASA) and the (FAA) have certified an airplane concurrently. "The certificates we present today are a testament to the safety of this airplane. The plane is 300,000 lbs heavier than the next commercial airplane. In its largest configuration, it also carries roughly 200 more passengers than any other aircraft on the market. Frankly, we'd never had to deal with something this big. From a certification standpoint, that was a huge challenge." Certification of the Engine Alliance (GP7000)-powered A380 variant is expected next year. Airbus (EDS), however, was unable to bask in what should have been 1 of its few good-news days in recent months. French investigators raided the Paris offices of (EADS) (EDS) as well as the Paris headquarters of (EADS) (EDS) stakeholder, the Lagardere Group. At issue is former (EADS) (EDS) co-(CEO) Noel Forgeard's sale of €2.5 million/$3.3 million in stock options just three months prior to (EADS) (EDS)'s stock sinking -26% on news of the A380's setback. Other (EADS) executives also are reportedly a focus of the investigation into suspicious share sales. Forgeard, who served as Airbus (EDS) (CEO), when the A380 program was launched told "Europe 1" radio in June that the stock sale was "an unfortunate coincidence." He was forced to resign in July.

January 2007: The USA (FAA) unveiled its long-awaited and controversial Extended Operations rule that brings 2-, 3- and 4-engine airplanes under a common regulation for long-haul operations with limited diversion airports. According to the (FAA), the new rule is "intended to eliminate propulsion system reliability as a consideration from the maximum diversion time capability of the airplane. Only the most time limiting airplane system capability [fire suppression, oxygen, etc] will determine the maximum diversion time capability for a 2-engine airplane under the new requirements."

The (FAA) also extended "most requirements previously applicable only to 2-engine airplanes to a limited number of part 121 passenger-carrying 3- and 4-engine airplane operations," but the rule "excludes the Extended Twin-engine OperationS (ETOPS) maintenance requirements from the operation of airplanes with >2 engines (the (FAA) has accepted the safety case that current engine reliabilities and the level of engine redundancy on such airplanes is sufficient to protect such operations.)" It estimated the cost of compliance with the new 300-page rule at $20.9 million for USA airlines >16-year period.

The (FAA) issued a Notice of Public Rule Making (NPRM) requiring new airplanes to feature enhanced cabin, flight deck and cargo hold protection against explosive devices or projectiles and the identification of "least risk bomb location" on board affected airplanes. Comments on the (NPRM) are due April 5.

After nearly 5 decades of strict adherence to a rule whose origin "still is a matter of debate," (FAA) Marion Blakey said the USA (FAA) is ready to "seize the moment" and "close the book on Age 60."

February 2007: Airline efforts to get business and general aviation to bear a larger share of the cost of the air traffic control system, may stall when Congress takes up (FAA) re-authorization legislation this year.

The USA (FAA) unveiled its eagerly awaited Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing Reform Act of 2007, the funding and air traffic control (ATC) legislative proposal, that would eliminate domestic ticket taxes, impose user fees and "make it easier for airports, airlines and controllers to keep pace with the skyrocketing demand for air travel," according to Administrator, Marion Blakey.

Revenues required by the agency and for the development of satellite-based (ATC) would be generated by a combination of user fees, international arrival and departure taxes (reduced -50%) and government contributions. The proposal also provides for limited borrowing authority that (FAA) can use to support infrastructure improvements, gives airports the leeway to raise more money (including an increase on (PFC) caps to $6 from $4.50) and offers money for research into airframe and engine technology, designed to reduce noise and emissions.

User fees would comprise 53% of the (FAA)'s budget, and would be calculated from the (FAA)'s "cost accounting and allocation systems." General aviation users would pay through a fuel tax, which would combine with a common fuel tax imposed on all users to total 28% of the budget, and fund the Airport Improvement Program, the Essential Air Service Program and (FAA) research and development. Contributions from the government's general fund would make up the remaining 19%.

March 2007: Record levels of passenger and cargo traffic are straining airport capacity, a problem that must be addressed in the (FAA)'s re-authorization program, Airports Council International, North America (ACI-NA) President, Gregory Principato testified before the USA Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation last week.

USA airports need to be able to provide the appropriate facilities, including new runways, to accommodate demand, he said. (FAA)'s current fee structure expires September 30.

JetBlue Airways (JBL) named Russell Chew, (COO) effective March 19. Formerly (COO) at the USA (FAA) and before that a Managing Director at American Airlines (AAL), Chew had been named Executive VP Operations at Hawaiian Airlines (HWI) less than a month ago.

The USA (FAA) estimates it will need $15 to $22 billion through 2025 to fund transformation of "grossly inefficient" radar-based (ATC) into the "NextGen" satellite-based system, including $4.3 billion over the next five years, and is pushing Congress to reform the agency's funding mechanism and allow it to borrow money when necessary. Fuel taxes and user fees are the primary means by which the (FAA) would like to fund the (ATC) investment, Administrator Marion Blakey testified before Congress, adding that the current system under which the vast majority of funding comes from airline passenger ticket taxes, is too vulnerable to economic ups and downs. The proposed new system would shift a greater burden to business and general aviation. "It's my firm belief that our status quo financing structure cannot deliver the "NextGen" system we need, when and where we need it," Blakey said. She warned the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that "congestion will rule the day" if (ATC) is not modernized. "To put it mildly, the system is in trouble. While it's the safest in the world, it's grossly inefficient, and everyone who flies it knows it." The
(FAA)'s current funding system is set to expire in September. Blakey called for lawmakers to take "bold action" to fund (ATC) modernization. "I want to be clear that the primary purpose of this proposal is not about collecting more money for the (FAA), it is about creating a more rational, equitable and stable system that provides appropriate incentives to airspace users to efficiently use increasingly congested airspace," she said, adding that the move to satellite-based (ATC) "is likely to limp along, far behind the traffic," absent adoption of a new financing system.

USA airlines will have to invest $20 to $25 billion through 2025 to equip airplanes for the (FAA)'s planned satellite-based, "NextGen" system, according to (ATA) President & (CEO), James May. "I think a lot of people don't understand the magnitude of the task we have before us [in shifting from ground-based radar to satellite (ATC)]," May said. "We've got 140,000 different ground-based installations in the current structure. You can't fund those and invest in "NextGen." There are huge political difficulties on the horizon about what you do with that infrastructure." The airline outlay is in addition to the $15 to $22 billion the government projects spending to modernize (ATC). The heavy financial commitments are needed to meet anticipated strong long-term traffic growth, industry representatives and USA officials say. The (FAA)'s annual Aerospace Forecast projected that USA airline traffic will "grow significantly" long-term, with (RPM) passenger traffic growth averaging +4.5% annually. By 2020, the (FAA) projects USA airlines will have collective capacity of 1.8 trillion (ASM)s.

USA "commercial aviation is on track to reach a billion passengers by 2015," Administrator, Marion Blakey said. "But before we break out the champagne, let's drink a little coffee," she added, noting that 2006 was "the worst year ever for flight delays" and that the "looming spike in passengers" means more congestion is ahead when there is absent modernized (ATC). "The system will reach its absolute breaking point," she warned. "The forecast we're seeing today is virtually unconstrained. It's where demand will take us," Assistant Administrator for Policy, Planning & Environment, Dan Elwell explained. "But the current system is not scalable to these numbers. We're still operating on 1960s [ATC] technology."

The USA (FAA) said it plans to hire nearly +1,400 air traffic controllers (ATC) this year for a net increase of +189 over 2006 hiring levels. It plans to hire and train more than >15,000 controllers over the next decade. It currently employs 14,618.

Added USA Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters: "Congestion is generating some very strong headwinds. Delays are mounting. It costs our economy -$9.4 billion [annually] in productivity loss as passengers wait at airports for hours . . . There's absolutely no way we can cope without "NextGen."

USA airlines' capacity (ASM) is expected to grow +2.8% and traffic (RPM) +3.4% in 2007, the (FAA) forecasts. Mainline domestic capacity is expected to increase +2.1% in 2007 and +3.6% in 2008.

As part of an effort to reduce the risk of runway incursions, the USA (FAA) said it is streamlining the certification process for technology, that will allow pilots to view their airplane's "own ship" position on runways and taxiways via a moving map display using Ground Proximity System (GPS) technology similar to (GPS) devices commonly used in automobiles. The agency said the portable devices likely will be certified and installed as soon as summer, and no later than year end, but will be allowed only for use on the ground. Essentially, it is isolating the on-ground own ship function of a Class 2 Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) for fast-track certification, removing the high costs and complications associated with certifying (EFB)s that use (GPS) data and moving maps for both ground and air operations. "This device is a game-changer," (FAA) Administrator, Marion Blakey said, adding that its cost will be "in reach" for airlines and can be "used throughout the existing, current fleet. It needs to be in our cockpits . . . We know very well that the next aviation accident could take place on the ground." The (FAA) said Aviation Communication & Surveillance Systems and Jeppesen have indicated they will produce versions of the portable device. Employing detailed airport maps and (GPS) signals, it will display the airplane as a moving triangle on runways and taxiways, allowing pilots (FC) to know exactly where they are, and preventing them from mistakenly using the wrong runway, as happened in the Comair (COI) CRJ-200 crash in Lexington, Kentucky, last year. Director Aircraft Certification, John Hickey said technology manufacturers aren't willing to spend the $200,000 per unit required to produce devices, that could meet the high certification standards required for flight operations. "The desire [to spend the money] for getting the whole package certified isn't there. There doesn't appear to be a market for it." "We're isolating the ground application . . . and developing a new, simplified certification" that the (FAA) estimates will cost manufacturers about $20,000 per unit, or 10% of the total certification cost. He said requirements will be spelled out by the end of April and a system could be approved by summer. "This type of device will give pilots (FC) so much more situational awareness [on the ground] than you have today," he added.

Aviation Communication & Surveillance Systems (ACSS) said it will push the USA (FAA) to include "other airplanes" on (GPS) moving map displays of runways and taxiways that the agency said likely will be available for cockpit retrofits following a fast-track certification later this year. "We're pretty confident that we can show 'own ship' position and other airplanes. We don't see why the [FAA] wouldn't certify [the other airplane function]. Seeing other traffic is key" to reducing runway incursions, (ACSS) President. Kris Ganase said in Washington. The (FAA) touted (ACSS) as a potential manufacturer of the device, for use with Class 2 Electronic Flight Bag (EFB)s , when it announced its intention to streamline certification. The agency said the devices will be approved for ground use and denote an airplane's "own ship" position but not others. Ganase said the device will incorporate some elements of SafeRoute, the Class 3 (EFB) system it plans to launch with (UPS) this summer. The first version of SafeRoute, which (ACSS) believes the (FAA) will certify by June, will use ADS-B technology to help pilots manage surface area movement and inflight merging and spacing. He said Jeppesen will provide the moving map data for the Class 2 (EFB) device and SafeRoute. Jeppesen spokesperson Eric Anderson said his company is "excited" about the fast-track certification and will provide the software and data for hardware produced by other companies such as (ACSS). Ganase said (ACSS) has been "very seriously in discussion with five major airlines" about the fast-track device, adding the equipment will take about two months to build once certification guidelines are detailed, which the (FAA) plans to do next month. "If we can bring something to the market that works and is affordable, then airlines around the world would be interested," he said.

April 2007: Those hoping to use their mobile phones or (PED)s on board USA airplanes will have to wait awhile longer following a recent announcement that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)is terminating its review of the December 2004 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing a relaxation or replacement of the regulations banning the devices. "Given the lack of technical information in the record upon which we may base a decision, we have determined at this time that this proceeding should be terminated," the (FCC) wrote in a Memorandum Opinion and Order. Had the agency moved forward, the (FAA) still would have had to approve use of the devices on board airplanes. "The comments filed in response to the (NPRM) provide insufficient technical information on whether the use of cellular phones on board airplanes may cause harmful interference to terrestrial networks," the (FCC) said in a statement. "Further, because airlines, manufacturers, and wireless providers are still researching the use of cellphones and other (PED)s on board airplanes, the (FCC) found that it would be premature to seek further comment at this juncture." The issue will be open for consideration in the future "if appropriate technical data is available," the agency concluded.

The transition to a satellite-based "NextGen" Air Traffic Control (ATC) system in the USA will hinge on politics and financing rather than technological issues, according to industry players. "Technology, in my view, is not the restraint," Lockheed Martin VP Transportation System Solutions, Monte Belger, who formerly served as the USA (FAA)'s Acting Deputy Administrator, said. "But there are enormous public policy decisions to be made. The industry costs to equip [airplanes] with ADS-B are huge." The (FAA), which projects a traffic congestion crisis absent modernization, estimated that it will need to spend $15 to $22 billion through 2025 to modernize the Air Traffic Control (ATC). The Air Transport Association projects airlines will have to spend an additional $20 to $25 billion to equip airplanes. "We're going to have to step up to the fact that it's going cost us money," American Airlines (AAL) Senior VP Government Affairs, Will Ris said.

(FAA) Administrator, Marion Blakey reiterated the (FAA)'s need for a more flexible funding system, moving from one based on passenger taxes to a user fee system. The proposal has led to conflict between airlines and business aviation/General Aviation as well as mixed reaction from Congress, which would have less control over (FAA) funding. "We're all talking over each other," Ris commented, adding that "bickering" among industry sectors will lead to "political gridlock" that could imperil necessary investment. Airports Council International North America, President, Greg Principato believes that industry consensus remains elusive, saying, "We're all trying to protect our piece of the pie." Belger added that the USA needs to move "as quickly as possible . . . That's not to say that the technology part is easy, but a lot of it is already proven."

The USA National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) sent recommendations regarding rest for air traffic controllers to both the (FAA) and the National Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) Association (NATCA) in response to its continuing investigation into last August's Comair (COI) CRJ-100 crash at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport in addition to "four other incidents, that provide clear and compelling evidence, that controllers are sometimes operating in a state of fatigue because of their work schedules, and poorly managed utilization of rest periods between shifts and that fatigue has contributed to controllers' errors." The board has not released its final report on the probable cause for the accident.

The (NTSB) asked the (FAA) and (NATCA) to work together to revise controller work-scheduling policies to provide rest periods long enough to offer "sufficient restorative sleep" and to change shift rotations "to minimize disrupted sleep patterns, accumulation of sleep debt and decreased cognitive performance."

Separately, it asked the (FAA) to develop a "fatigue awareness and countermeasures [recurrent] training program" for controllers and schedulers to address incidence, causes and effects of fatigue as well as "the importance of using personal strategies to minimize fatigue." The (FAA) also should require controllers to complete recurrent training in "resource management skills that will improve controller judgment, vigilance and safety awareness."

AirTran Airways (CQT) voiced its support for the USA (FAA)'s initiative to raise the mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots (FC) to 65 from 60. The (FAA) expects to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) by year end. The National Pilots Association, which represents AirTran (CQT)'s 1,400 pilots (FC), recently voted unanimously to allow pilots an additional five years of flying. Meanwhile, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) is waiting for the May release of a report prepared by its "Age 60 Blue Ribbon" Panel before announcing its position. Currently, (ALPA) policy supports "Age 60."

The USA (FAA) announced that Indonesia "does not comply with international safety standards set by (ICAO)" and lowered the country's safety rating to Category 2, ruling that it is "no longer overseeing the safety of its airlines in accordance with international standards." The USA State Department issued its own statement saying that last month's safety assessment conducted by the Indonesian Directorate General of Civil Aviation did not include "detailed methodology supporting the ratings" and that "Americans traveling to and from Indonesia should fly directly to their destinations on international carriers from countries whose civil aviation authorities meet international aviation safety standards."

A three-day USA-India "aviation partnership summit" starting in New Delhi will focus on how the (FAA) can help India cope with explosive air transport growth, as well as relations between the countries and future infrastructure development, (FAA) Administrator Marion Blakey said. "This is certainly one of the most significant [trips] I've taken as the (FAA) administrator," Blakey said in a conference call before leaving Washington. "India is certainly where the action is right now. This is an opportunity for us to lend our expertise as India comes to grips with this tremendous growth." She said the summit primarily will involve "information sharing" and discussions of "best practices," but she hopes to establish the framework for the countries' future relations on air transport issues. Air traffic management, airspace utilization and bilateral collaboration in airborne systems are key topics likely to be on the table. "Do they [India] have challenges? Yes, they do," said Blakey, pointing to an "upcoming pilot shortage," aging infrastructure and congested airspace around New Delhi and Mumbai. She believes the congestion issue is "a huge area where they can make advances" by adopting better air traffic routing practices. She added that Indian officials have demonstrated the "political will and expertise" necessary for modernization. "If there were not that kind of commitment, the (FAA) wouldn't be so engaged," she said.

Following the summit, Blakey will travel to Dubai, becoming the first (FAA) Administrator to visit the Middle East. "I am excited about lending the full weight of the (FAA) to our interests there," she said, noting that developing "global standards" for aviation is critical.

May 2007: USA Senate Aviation Subcommittee Chairman, Jay Rockefeller (Democrat-West Virginia) proposed (FAA) re-authorization legislation that emphasizes air traffic control (ATC) modernization and would force general/corporate aviation to fund a greater share of system costs. The bill, co-sponsored by Senator Trent Lott (Republican-Mississippi), proposes a $25-per-flight surcharge on all system users with the exception of piston-engine airplanes, turboprops operating under visual flight rules, military and other public airplanes, air ambulance airplanes and noncommercial airplanes owned by foreign governments. The surcharge is projected to generate +$400 million in the first year, with +$370 million coming from passenger and cargo airlines. The bill also would grant the (FAA) the right to issue up to $5 billion in bonds to fund (ATC) modernization. Under the legislation, the (FAA) would be required to "develop a clear implementation plan" within 90 days of the bill's becoming law for transitioning (ATC) to a satellite-based system and would establish an (ATC) Modernization Board to oversee the process. The bill additionally would require carriers to post on their websites information "on on time arrivals and flights that are chronically delayed," which they already must submit to the USA Dept of Transportation. As the bill moves to Senate committees that must approve it, Rockefeller and Lott suggest that the Finance Committee "consider a five-year phase-out of the 4.3 cents per gallon tax on fuel" currently paid by commercial airlines. "The Rockefeller-Lott proposal reaffirms the absolute need for a modern, fair and dependable funding stream to respond to the growing demand for air transportation," Air Transport Association President & (CEO), James May said.

Calling it a "tipping point for performance-based navigation," USA (FAA) Administrator, Marion Blakey said that Southwest Airlines (SWA) informed the agency that it will equip its entire fleet for Required Navigation Performance (RNP), including retrofitting its 737 Classics. (SWA) confirmed the plan, which Air Transport Association President & (CEO), James May said was an indication that "the entire industry is migrating as rapidly as possible to NextGen." (SWA) said that "it has made the decision to move forward internally, but all the specifics are not in place. We've been researching the capabilities for more than a year, the possibilities and efficiencies that we would gain and the benefits from our fleet being (RNP)-capable." (SWA) will start with its 737-700s, which come (RNP)-ready but would require "some switches to be flipped" before flying for (SWA). There is no timetable on the retrofit, the spokesperson revealed, saying, "we don't have a clear plan of how we're going to move forward." Nevertheless, (SWA) is the first airline to commit to (RNP) capability across its entire fleet. Blakey said 37 (RNP) approaches currently are available at 17 airports, with an additional 34 scheduled to be in place by year end and another 25 published next year.

Delta Air Lines (DAL) Executive VP Operations, Joe Kolshak was on hand to detail the benefits performance-based navigation has brought to (DAL). (DAL) received approval in March for its 737-800s to fly (RNP) approaches, joining Alaska Airlines (ASA), Horizon Air and Continental Airlines (CAL), and Atlanta Airport (ATL) has been (RNAV)-equipped since Fiscal Year (FY) 2005. Kolshak said average delays have been reduced at (ATL) by 3 minutes, which he said was the equivalent of adding three airplanes to the fleet. (DAL) ranked sixth among USA legacy carriers in on time performance two years ago and stands second so far this year. The fifth runway and new taxiway also have been key contributors.

Kolshak said (DAL) is conducting constant descent approach beta testing on early morning transcontinental arrivals at Atlanta and that initial indications are that it will save 400 lbs of fuel per flight, or 13 million gallons per year.

USA (FAA) Administrator, Marion Blakey defended aviation's environmental record. "Frankly, there are some strange portraits of aviation today," she said. "Some see it as a rogue industry on the order of tobacco, as a greenhouse dragon that needs to be slain . . . Even people who made their fortune in the travel industry now want to place surcharges of hundreds of dollars on all flights on the theory that people just fly to fly. There's a perception that somehow aviation doesn't care about the environment; that it's responsible for a great deal of the greenhouse gases up there. We know that's not the truth."

Blakey then reminded attendees that "cars and trucks represent 21% of greenhouse gasses; power plants 33%," while aviation "comes in at less than" <3%. However, she also called on aviation to do "all it can to get our house in order," noting that "aviation greenhouse gas emissions might become a serious barrier to aviation growth over the long term."

The USA Senate Commerce & Transportation Committee approved the (FAA) re-authorization bill proposed earlier in May by Aviation Subcommittee Chairman, Jay Rockefeller (Democrat-West Virginia). The legislation provides $65 billion to fund the agency through 2011, and also would establish a $25-per-flight surcharge to help fund air traffic control (ATC) modernization.

The bill additionally includes "passengers' rights" provisions, namely a requirement that airlines provide passengers on ground-delayed airplanes with food, water and access to restrooms. But the committee did not include a controversial time-limit requirement, against which airlines have lobbied, that would mandate that carriers allow passengers to leave airplanes that have been sitting on the ground for 3 hours. Instead, the legislation mandates that airlines file individual plans with the (FAA), that detail how they would manage extensive ground delays. The bill is now under review by the Senate Finance Committee.

The Air Line Pilots Assn (ALPA) announced that its executive board voted by an 80% margin to end the union's "longstanding" support for the USA (FAA)'s "Age 60 retirement" rule. "In the face of concerted efforts to change the rule in Congress and the (FAA), the (ALPA) executive board directed that union resources be committed to protecting pilot (FC) interests by exerting (ALPA)'s influence in any rule change," the union said. Among those interests are prevention of pilots hired after the age of 60, from receiving credit for prior seniority or service, liability protection for airlines and unions, opposition to additional age-related diagnostic medical testing, and opposition to enforcing the (ICAO) "one-pilot-must-be-under-60" standard on domestic flights, among others.

June 2007: (ARINC) said the USA (FAA) awarded it a three-year contract to continue providing the VHF Extended Range Network that supports Air Traffic Control (ATC) communications in the Gulf of Mexico.

The European Commission (EC) and the USA (FAA) unveiled a transatlantic emission-reduction initiative called (AIRE) (Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions), which (EC) VP Transport, Jacques Barrot said will "speed up the application of technologies and procedures having a direct impact on greenhouse gas emissions." (AIRE) will be based on "gate-to-gate" testing and experiments on such initiatives as continuous descent approaches, the (EC) said. Airbus (EDS), Boeing (TBC), Air France (AFA)/(KLM), (SAS) Group, Delta Air Lines (DAL), and FedEx (FED) are among those companies involved in the initiative.

July 2007: The USA Department of Transportation (DOT) asked for public comment on possible changes to the rules governing airline oversales, including a potential increase in the maximum compensation due to passengers bumped from oversold flights. Existing "bumping" rules first were adopted in 1962. Under the current rule, if the airline can arrange alternate transportation scheduled to arrive at the passenger's destination within 2 hours of the planned arrival time of the oversold flight, or 4 hours on international flights, the compensation is the amount of the fare to the passenger's destination with a $200 maximum, according to the (DOT). If the airline cannot meet these deadlines, the amount of maximum compensation doubles to $400. These payments are in addition to the value of the passenger's ticket, which the passenger can use for alternate transportation or have refunded. The rules apply to oversold flights, not cancelled or delayed flights, the (DOT) noted. The department asked for comment on five proposals: Increasing the $200 compensation limit to $624, and the $400 limit to $1,248; increasing the compensation limits to $290 and $580 respectively; doubling the compensation limits to $400 and $800; eliminating all compensation limits and making compensation equal to the value of the ticket, with the payment doubling for longer delays; or leaving the current limits in place.

The (DOT) also sought comments on extending the rule to 30/60-seat airplanes, which currently are not covered, and clarifying the criteria, airlines may use in deciding the order in which passengers will be bumped. Industry comments are due in 60 days.

USA (FAA) Administrator, Marion Blakey reminded lawmakers in Washington that the (FAA) reauthorization deadline is looming and warned that the current (ATC) system is in dire need of modernization.
"There is no rebound or a recovery available for the system today," she said in a speech delivered at a Capitol Hill gathering promoting the agency's plan to transfer to a satellite-based "NextGen" (ATC) system by 2025. "Make no mistake. This is a steady slide toward gridlock. Last summer's delays are going to be like the good old days when the dog days roll in for 2007." She cautioned against putting off establishing a reliable funding stream for modernizing (ATC), asserting that the means for paying for the NextGen system should be outlined in the (FAA) reauthorization bill currently being debated by Congress. "If we wait [until later in the future], we're toast," she said. "You can call it critical mass. You can call it gridlock. But whatever you call it, we all know that the problem is upon us." She said it is imperative that Congress pass an (FAA) reauthorization bill before the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30. "If we're unable to have a financing reform bill in place . . . the delays and the missed connections and the headlines are only going to get worse - - much worse. Without a reliable funding stream, the NextGen program will start to slow down, and when the bow wave of delays hits, it'll be too late." Blakey announced that the agency is expanding its Operational Evolution Plan, which has guided its push to increase system capacity since 2000, to include NextGen. The program will be renamed the "Operational Evolution Partnership (OEP)" and will be guided by an (OEP) senior executive, a newly created position that will report directly to the Air Traffic Organization COO. "The search for that key executive begins today," she said.

August 2007: The New York legislature passed and Governor Eliot Spitzer signed into law a "passenger bill of rights" outlining requirements for airlines during extended ground delays, making the state that is home to busy New York (JFK) and LaGuardia the first in the USA to act on passenger complaints of poor customer service.
Largely in response to the much-publicized incident in which JetBlue Airways (JBL) passengers were forced to stay on parked airplanes at (JFK) for up to 10 hours during an ice storm, the new law claims to cover flights at New York airports and mandates fines of as much as $1,000 per passenger for carriers that fail to comply, although airlines question whether it is enforceable under federal law. The law requires carriers to provide food, water, clean restrooms and fresh air to passengers stranded on airplanes for more than >3 hours. It also requires airlines to provide passengers with a phone number to register service complaints and establishes an "office of airline consumer advocate" within the New York state government. "This law establishes much-needed consumer protections that will help guarantee greater passenger safety and comfort when severe delays impact their travels from New York airports," Spitzer said. New York State Senator Charles Fuschillo, the bill's primary sponsor, added: "This first-in-the-nation law will ensure that stranded passengers are . . . not held hostage on delayed flights without basic amenities."

An Air Transport Association (ATA) spokesperson said the organization is "disappointed" by the new law and believes it is "preempted" by federal statutes, adding, "We will review our options, including possible legal challenge." The Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights, which is lobbying the USA Congress to include passenger rights provisions in (FAA) reauthorization legislation, praised "New York's tough new airline passenger rights law" and called on Congress "to finish the job for all travelers nationwide." The group wants Congress to mandate that airlines allow passengers to leave airplanes after a ground delay of more than >3 hours, something the New York bill does not do and that carriers have opposed strenuously.

"Legislating something with fixed time limits is just unpractical in terms of day-to-day operations," Delta Air Lines (DAL) COO, James Whitehurst told reporters in Washington.

STG Aerospace's Wireless Emergency Primary Power System received an (FAA) Supplementary Type Certificate (STC) for the 737NG family, the first in a prioritized "rollout" program of certification aimed at the entire commercial airplane market.

The USA Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) dismissed the National Air Traffic Controllers Assn's charges of unfair labor practices related to (FAA)'s implementation of a new contract last year. The agency imposed the contract after negotiations failed to produce an agreement, leading the union to claim it was unlawful and to file complaints with (FLRA). "This decision validates our new contract, which is saving taxpayers -$1.9 billion over five years and providing the resources we need to invest in 21st-century air traffic systems," (FAA) Administrator, Marion Blakey said.

INCDT: A high-profile runway incursion at Los Angeles International (LAX) recently brought further attention to a problem to which the USA (FAA) has promised serious scrutiny in the immediate future. The agency said a WestJet (WJI) 737NG landing at (LAX) after a flight from Calgary came within 50 foot of a Northwest Airlines (NWA) A320 accelerating to 150 mph as it neared takeoff. The (FAA) blamed the incident both on a miscommunication between a ground controller and the WestJet (WJI) pilots (FC) and on the ground controller's failure to check with (ATC) before clearing the 737 to approach an arrival gate, according to several media reports. The incident occurred one day after the (FAA) detailed new steps it is taking to reduce incursions. But its short-term plan did not include deployment of new technology, the development of which it has indicated is key to a long-term solution. The agency said in March that it was streamlining the certification process for portable devices that would use (GPS) technology to allow pilots (FC) to view their airplane's "own ship" position on runways and taxiways via moving map displays. (FAA) Administrator, Marion Blakey said such a device, which essentially would isolate the on-ground own ship function of a Class 2 electronic flight bag (EFB), would be "a game-changer" and "needs to be in our cockpits."

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) provided further details on the incident, reporting that a landing WestJet (WJI) 737NG, and a Northwest Airlines (NWA) A320 taking off "almost collided." The 737 "held between . . . parallel runways [after landing] as directed by the Air Traffic Control [ATC] tower." But "without authorization" the WestJet (WJI) pilots (FC) contacted ground control on a different radio frequency and a ground controller "assumed that they had been cleared to cross Runway 24L, and provided instructions for the WestJet (WJI) flight to taxi to its gate," according to (NTSB). "However, the tower controller expected the WestJet (WJI) flight to hold, and cleared the Northwest (NWA) flight to take off from Runway 24L . . . The WestJet (WJI) airplane crossed the hold short line for Runway 24L and the two airplanes came within 37 feet as the Northwest (NWA) flight crossed directly in front [of the 737] during its takeoff roll."

Director Aircraft Certification, John Hickey said he was "developing a new, simplified certification" for the units, citing Aviation Communication & Surveillance Systems (ACSS) as a potential producer. He expressed confidence that the device would be approved by this summer. But there does not appear to have been significant movement on the technology and the (FAA) was unable to provide an update on the certification process.

Another system, (ACSS)'s SafeRoute, is beginning to be installed and tested on (UPS) airplanes, but the (FAA) has not certified it yet. SafeRoute software is based on (ADS-B) technology, and features a Surface Area Movement Management application to provide an in-cockpit display of the airport surface and other airplanes moving about. The system initially will not include an alerting function to warn pilots of conflicts, but (UPS) and (ACSS) hope to implement such a function next year. They are targeting certification this year.

Additionally, Honeywell (SGC) and Sensis are demonstrating a technology that would permit pilots to receive relevant (ASDE-X) conflict advisories, although this would only be effective at (ASDE-X)-equipped airports. Honeywell Aerospace (SGC) and Sensis Corp are carrying out a technology demonstration that combines Sensis's Airport Surface Detection Equipment Model X ground-based system with Honeywell (SGC)'s Mode S and (TCAS) avionics. The result is that (ASDE-X) aural conflict alerts provided to air traffic controllers also are transmitted at "virtually the same instant" to the cockpit(s) of affected airplanes, according to officials. The companies have conducted tests of the technology at the USA (FAA)'s ASDE-X facility at Hancock International Airport in Syracuse. ASDE-X uses a combination of surface movement radar and transponder multilateration sensors to show aircraft and vehicle positions on an Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower display and alert controllers to potential conflicts. It also supports (ADS-B).

Honeywell Aerospace (SGC) Marketing Manager-Safety Systems, Rick Berckefeldt and Sensis Chief Strategy Officer, Marc Viggiano stressed that this "is not a product launch," but rather "a technology demonstration of what can be." No hardware changes are required and "we've borrowed a data link format that is part of the standard (TCAS) definition," Berckefeldt said.

Runway incursions are a significant challenge in the USA. Earlier this year, (FAA) Administrator, Marion Blakey proposed fast-tracking a Ground Proximity System (GPS)-based solution to give pilots (FC) a moving map display of their own-ship position on the airport surface.

While the technology demonstrated by Sensis and Honeywell does not provide pilots (FC) with a visual display, it will alert them to impending conflicts with other airplanes and ground vehicles. (ASDE-X) currently is commissioned at nine USA airports, with Chicago O'Hare and Charlotte coming online in August. The (FAA) has identified a total of 35 USA airports, that are candidates to receive (ASDE-X), Sensis said.

The USA (FAA), citing "recent close calls at some of our nation's busiest airports," said urgent action is needed "to reduce the risk of runway incursions and wrong runway departures" and announced a short-term plan to tackle the problem. Speaking at a runway safety meeting in Washington, Deputy Administrator and Acting Air Traffic Organization (COO), Bobby Sturgell said safety reviews will begin at airports causing "greatest concern" within 60 days. The agency is compiling a list of 20 to 30 airports to be examined "based on a variety of safety risk factors, including the record of past incursions," he said. Airline and airport officials will assist in the reviews.

In the same timeframe, the (FAA) plans to disseminate information on runway safety training, and "accelerate the deployment of improved airport signage and markings at the top 75 airports." It also will review cockpit and (ATC) clearance procedures. "This may include changing cockpit procedures to minimize pilot (FC) activities and distractions while an airplane is moving on the ground and to make (ATC) instructions more precise," Sturgell said. The agency will implement a voluntary self-reporting system for all (ATC) safety personnel, such as controllers and technicians.

The (FAA) confirmed that on July 11, a Delta Air Lines (DAL) 757 arriving at Fort Lauderdale "touched down and had to take off again to avoid colliding" with a United Airlines (UAL) A320, that was taxiing to a runway and "had missed a turn." It said that on July 5, a (DAL) airplane landing at New York LaGuardia "narrowly missed" a Delta Connection airplane, that was "mistakenly cleared to taxi across the runway at the same time."

The agency noted that the worst commercial airline accident in the USA of the past several years, was the August 2006 Comair (COI) CRJ-200 crash, that occurred after the airplane took off "from a wrong runway that was too short for commercial flights."

(FAA) Administrator, Marion Blakey, whose term ends September 13, was named President & CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) effective November 12. She will succeed the retiring John Douglas, who has held the positions since September 1998 and will remain at (AIA) through 2007. (AIA) is the trade association for the domestic aerospace industry. (AIA) Chairman and Raytheon (RAY) Chairman & CEO, William Swanson said Blakey's "exceptional experience in the executive branch of government, as well her deep expertise in public affairs and government relations, will greatly benefit all the members of (AIA) as she represents the industry in the years ahead."

Later, the (FAA) said that a team led by (ITT) Corporation was selected as the prime contractor for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). (ITT) said the initial contract is for three years and is valued at $207 million. Should the (FAA) exercise all the options, the contract term rises to 18 years and is valued at $1.86 billion. The agreement calls on the (ITT)-led group to deploy a nationwide air traffic control surveillance network consisting of field radio sites, data processing centers, network operations centers and equipment, to enable delivery of surveillance data to (ATC) facilities, which it will own and operate. It will be required to have the system ready for use by 2010 and to cover the entire USA by 2013. The (FAA) will pay subscription charges for (ADS-B) broadcasts transmitted to properly equipped airplanes and (ATC) facilities. "This signals a new era of air traffic control," said Deputy Administrator, Bobby Sturgell. "(ADS-B) - - and, in turn, NextGen - - will attack the delay problem head on by dramatically increasing air traffic efficiency." The (ITT) team comprises (AT&T), Thales North America, (WSI), (SAIC), PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Aerospace Engineering, Sunhillo, Comsearch, (MCS) of Tampa, Pragmatics, Washington Consulting Group, Aviation Communications and Surveillance Systems, Sandia Aerospace and (NCR) Corporation. Also competing for the contract, were teams led by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon (RAY).

September 2007: The USA (FAA) issued a final decision on the redesign of the airspace over the USA Northeast, that it said will "reduce delays, fuel consumption, aircraft emissions and noise." The redesign involves a 31,000-sq-mile area over Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Delays are expected to fall -20% by 2011, when the redesign is slated to be completed. The agency said the new design will integrate the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control airspace with portions of surrounding Air Route Traffic Control Center airspace, combine high- and low-altitude airspace to create more efficient arrivals and departures, and expand the use of more efficient separation standards. (ATA) President & CEO, James May said, "This long-awaited program is a much-needed first step to relieve unprecedented congestion in the Northeast and to maintain high standards of safety."

(FAA) Administrator, Marion Blakey, whose five-year term ends this month, said that system congestion must be overcome for airlines to prosper in the future, and called on carriers to make changes in flight scheduling practices and move as quickly as possible to equip airplanes for next-generation satellite-based Air Traffic Control (ATC). "To be clear, the airlines need to take a step back on the scheduling practices, that are at times, out of line with reality," she said during a farewell speech in Washington. "Passengers are growing weary . . . Airline schedules have got to stop being the fodder for late night monologues. And if the airlines don't address this voluntarily, don't be surprised when the government steps in."
Blakey declined to detail specific changes airlines need to make or what actions the government would take, but appeared to favor some kind of schedule de-peaking as was done at Chicago O'Hare a few years ago. She also pointed to (FAA)'s planned gradual changeover to a Next-Gen (ATC) system and encouraged carriers to make necessary upgrades. "Airlines and all the operators in our system are going to have to embrace the change involved," she said. "Regrettably, ours is a world in which we wait for the other guy to step up, and then maybe we will too. We need to stop the phenomenon in aviation of running to the back of the line."

(FAA) Deputy Administrator, Robert Sturgell assumed the role of Acting Administrator following the departure of Marion Blakey. It is unknown how long it will take for USA President, George Bush to nominate a permanent replacement.

USA Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters named United Airlines (UAL) VP Flight Operations, Henry Krakowski as Chief Operating Officer of the (FAA)'s Air Traffic Organization (ATO), effective October 1. Krakowski will lead the (ATO)'s 35,000 controllers, technicians, engineers and support personnel, overseeing the operational and financial performance of the (ATC) system and the (FAA)'s research and acquisition programs. "Hank is the right person to help implement the next generation of aviation technology," Peters said. Krakowski will report to Acting (FAA) Administrator, Robert Sturgell, who took over the agency, when Marion Blakey's set five-year term ended. Sturgell had been serving as Deputy Administrator and also as acting (ATO) COO, since Russell Chew left to join JetBlue Airways (JBL) last March. Krakowski, a 737 captain, has served as (UAL) VP Corporate Safety, Security & Quality Assurance. For the past two years, he has been co-chair of the Commercial Aviation Safety Team, an industry/government partnership. He also has been Chairman of the Star Alliance (SAL) Safety Advisory Group. "Hank's unwavering commitment to the safe operation of our airline, and his contributions to safety across the industry, set him apart as a leader in aviation," (UAL) Executive VP & COO, Pete McDonald said. The airline said its search to replace Krakowski begins immediately.

The USA House of Representatives passed an (FAA) reauthorization bill, that provides more than >$67 billion to fund the agency's operations through 2011, but the legislation contains a number of provisions objected to by the White House and airlines, and that puts it in conflict with a proposed Senate version. The bill, which passed by a vote of 267 to 151, would increase fuel taxes on airlines by 25% to 24.2 cents per gallon and raise the cap on passenger facility charges (PFC) from $4.50 to $7. It would not raise user fees on corporate and general aviation, something for which carriers have lobbied strongly, and would force the (FAA) to reopen negotiations with air traffic controllers on a new labor contract. While airports applauded the legislation, it was blasted by airlines and the Bush Administration as a "status quo" bill, that would do little to finance a planned shift to satellite-based (ATC) and that fails to shift more of the burden for funding the system to users other than airlines. "The House bill does little to promote NextGen [ATC] or correct the subsidy of corporate jets by airline passengers," Air Transport Assn President & CEO, James May said. "Even worse, it imposes a +$2.2 billion tax increase on passengers in the form of airport facilities charges." The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in a letter sent to House members before the bill passed, said it would recommend a presidential veto if the legislation were to arrive on President Bush's desk in its current form. The (OMB) said the House bill would "make the status quo worse" and "falls far short" of making necessary funding reforms. It called the (PFC) cap rise "excessive and unjustified." The Senate is expected to begin debate soon on its version of (FAA) reauthorization legislation. Key lawmakers predicted that differences among the House, Senate and White House, which would have to be reconciled to make the legislation law, will be too much to overcome by the September 30 deadline, when the current (FAA) authorization expires. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Ranking Republican, John Mica said reauthorization is "dead in its tracks." A continuing resolution could be passed to keep the agency running beyond the deadline, pushing off decisions on reforming the (FAA). A broader budget standoff in Washington between the White House and Democratic-controlled Congress, further complicates the debate over (FAA) financing.

Airlines need to develop detailed plans to avoid having passengers stranded onboard delayed airplanes for long periods, the USA Dept of Transportation Inspector General said in a recent report. Inspector General, Calvin Scovell recommended that the federal government require airlines to have policies for stranded passengers, that would specify how long they would have to wait before being allowed to leave an airplane. He noted that in the first seven months of 2007, 28% of USA commercial flights were delayed, cancelled or diverted. Some 3.7 million passengers experienced delays of 1 to 5 hours during the period, a +42% increase over the same period in 2006. Airlines voluntarily agreed in 1999 to take steps to mitigate the effect of delays and to make customer service improvements, but most still have not defined clearly what constitutes an "extended period of time" for passengers to be stuck on delayed airplanes, Scovell said. "This should be a top priority for the airlines, when implementing their contingency plans, especially with the record-breaking onboard delays we have already seen in 2007, particularly those exceeding four hours." In testimony before a House of Representative committee, Scovell outlined recommendations for improving passenger service: Airlines should establish detailed plans to minimize long onboard delays and offload passengers within a certain time period; airport operators should work with airlines in developing contingency plans for flight disruptions, and federal transportation officials, airlines, and airports should take immediate action on previous recommendations to improve customer service, and minimize long onboard delays.

The Air Transport Assn said it wants to meet with the (FAA) to discuss the findings of the Inspector General report and to work collaboratively to mitigate flight delays. "We believe these recommendations will deliver tangible benefits to the flying public and can be implemented in short order," ATA President & CEO, James May said.

October 2007: USA air traffic congestion was given considerable attention last month in Washington, where lawmakers and Bush Administration officials are under increasing pressure to alleviate what Air Transport Assn President & CEO, James May called "an increasingly serious national crisis of flight delays." President George W Bush vowed that the Dept of Transportation and the (FAA) would move quickly to "address the problem." Meanwhile, the September 30 deadline for the (FAA) reauthorization passed this weekend, with no new financing system approved by Congress. An agency spokesperson said Congress has agreed to pass a three-month extension and that (FAA) operations will be "status quo to the end of the year." The House of Representatives has cleared a version of (FAA) reauthorization legislation objected to by Bush, airlines and a number of prominent senators.

Officials are focused particularly on the crowded New York-area airspace. Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters said she will push carriers to schedule fewer flights during peak hours at (JFK), LaGuardia and Newark airports. She said it could become necessary for the government to impose solutions such as a mandated de-peaking and/or a regulated pricing regime for landing slots. She warned that a "return to the days of government-regulated flights and limited competition" at the New York airports might be warranted. Airlines argued that factors beyond their control contribute significantly to congestion, such as an outdated radar-based (ATC) system and a proliferation of corporate airplanes in major markets.

Continental Airlines (CAL) Senior VP Network Strategy, Zane Rowe testified at a Senate aviation subcommittee hearing last month, that "any fix [in New York] must include all users, including corporate and general aviation." He explained that airline airplanes take up just 53% of the New York-area airspace on an average day. Corporate jets' rise is "a grave concern to us," he said, adding that business aviation is "clearly impacting our schedules" and warning against a "knee-jerk reaction" that would disproportionately affect airlines.

American Airlines (AAL) Executive VP Maintenance & Operations, Robert Reding told the same hearing that corporate jets "add to the woes of congestion in New York airspace."

But Senator Ted Stevens (Republican-Alaska) said airlines must take responsibility. "The system is stressed but your policies are stressing," he told Rowe and Reding, pointing to "delays related to crew problems and service problems" and overscheduling. "We are on the precipice of aviation gridlock," he said.

The USA (FAA) revised its definition of a "runway incursion," adopting (ICAO)'s characterization of "any unauthorized intrusion onto a runway," as what it will label an incursion going forward. The primary difference is that the (FAA)'s prior definition required that an airplane present "a potential conflict" with another airplane or moving vehicle in order to be classified as an incursion. The agency, for example, previously would have described an unauthorized airplane crossing an empty runway as a "surface incident," and not a runway incursion. "The new definition means that some incidents formerly classified as surface incidents, will now be classified as "C" or "D" category runway incursions, which are low-risk incidents with ample time and/or distance to avoid a collision," the (FAA) said. "The (FAA) is making the change so the worldwide aviation community will have a single runway incursion definition, which in turn could help in the search to determine common factors that contribute to these incidents."

The USA (FAA) touted "significant short-term actions" taken in the past 60 days to improve runway safety and noted that "serious" incursions for the fiscal year ended September 30 were down to 24 from 31 in the previous year. But the agency also conceded that development of technology that could help reduce incursions is moving at a slower pace than anticipated. Acting Administrator, Bobby
Sturgell said the (FAA) has completed reviews of runway safety at 20 airports. Those facilities have used information gained during the examinations to develop "short-, mid- and long-term initiatives" to improve safety. He and other agency officials also stated during a press briefing that 52 of the USA's 75 busiest airports have completed painting enhanced markings on runways, and that increased and "recurrent" training of both pilots (FC) and other airline/airport workers with runway access is underway. COO Air Traffic Organization, Hank Krakowski said the (FAA) also has concluded that controllers should give more "explicit taxiway clearances with routings included" rather than allowing pilots
to determine their own paths to and from gates. Sturgell said the agency is pursuing all avenues. "One thing will not solve the [incursion] issue," he explained. "We need to tackle this from as many angles as possible." But officials acknowledged that the most effective "mid- and long-term" solutions likely will come from technology. For example, the (FAA) said in March, that it was streamlining the certification process for portable devices that would use Ground Position System (GPS) technology to allow pilots to view their airplane's "own ship" position on runways and taxiways, via moving map displays. Former Administrator, Marion Blakey said such a device, which essentially would isolate the on-ground own-ship function of a Class 2 electronic flight bag (EFB), would be "a game-changer" and "needs to be in our cockpits." Deputy Associate Administrator, Aviation Safety, Peggy Gilligan conceded, "We're a little disappointed that we aren't further along with own-ship technology . . . We're close [to approval] but we aren't there yet." She said that certification of an own-ship cockpit display likely will come within the next six months, adding that technology is the "added layer" that could enhance runway safety greatly.
"Training works, but it needs to be repeated and it's not a 100% solution," she said. "Technology often can be a 100% solution."

USA (FAA) officials were forced to spend much of the briefing on runway safety responding to questions concerning reports that (NASA) conducted a comprehensive pilot survey revealing that near midair collisions and runway incursions occur twice as often as the (FAA) data show. According to an Associated Press (AP) report, (NASA) spent $8.5 million commissioning telephone interviews with about
24,000 commercial and General Aviation (GA) pilots in 2002 to 2005. But the agency has not released the results, and the (AP) reported that it recently ordered the surveyor "to purge all related data from its computers." (NASA) Associate Administrator, Thomas Luedtke said in a statement cited by (AP) that the survey's results "could materially affect the public confidence in and the commercial welfare of" airlines. "At the (FAA), we're focused on hard data analysis," Acting Administrator, Bobby Sturgell said. "I don't know what the data [in the (NASA) survey] shows." Added Deputy Associate Administrator Aviation Safety, Peggy Gilligan, "The (FAA) has not seen the [NASA] data." She said the agency was aware of the survey, but questioned its methodology and shared its reservations with (NASA). "It was hard for us to understand how they would develop the data in a meaningful way," she said.

The USA (FAA) issued its expected Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to require that airlines equip all airplanes operating in controlled airspace with (ADS-B) compatible, avionics by 2020. "The proposal would require all airplanes flying in the nation's busiest airspace to have satellite-based avionics by 2020, enabling air traffic controllers to track airplanes by satellites using [ADS-B], which is 10 times more accurate than current radar technology," the agency said. The proposal is open to public comment for 90 days. The (FAA) hopes to make the rule final by late 2009. Air Transport Assn, President & CEO, James May said, "Initial indications are that the (NPRM) appears to be in line with industry expectations and is an important step on the path to NextGen." Separately, Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters said she will make recommendations on reducing airline delays to President Bush by year end. In a speech delivered to Airports Council International-North America's annual conference in Kansas City, she said she is not interested in imposing "heavy-handed government regulation" on airlines, adding that "market mechanisms such as congestion pricing, peak-hour ticket surcharges and slot auctions . . . can make a tremendous contribution to solving congestion." Peters also warned, "The delays that travelers experienced this summer are a symptom of a system that has failed . . . New York [which is estimated to account for 75% of USA delays] is not an anomaly, but a preview of congestion to come." She attributed much of the problem to a funding system, that is subject to political influence and pressure rather than market demand.
She pegged the annual economic cost of airline delays at $9 billion, and said lost economic activity owing to delays, will skyrocket to $22 billion by 2022, and $33 billion by 2033, absent "fundamental change." The National Air Traffic Controllers Assn (NATCA) said that controller staffing shortages are a primary cause of delays and that the situation will not improve as more controllers retire, and inexperienced newcomers take their place. (NATCA) President, Patrick Forrey noted that there are -1,400 fewer controllers today than before 9/11, and that 1,300 to 1,400 are retiring or quitting each year. The (FAA) said it has hired about +1,300 new controllers this year, but Forrey said few of them will be certified by year end, and claimed that 200 of the new hires already have quit, owing to low pay.

Thales (THL) was awarded a contract from (ITT) for the supply and lifecycle support of (ADS-B) radios for the (ITT) team's winning bid to deploy the ground stations for the (FAA)'s (ADS-B) program. Thales (THL) said the initial contract term is three years, with a value of up to $40 million, rising to $140 million if all options are exercised.

USA airlines will convene for a meeting with President Bush Administration officials October 23 to 24, to discuss ways of reducing airspace congestion, with particular focus on the crowded New York market, the Dept of Transportation (DOT) announced. Executives from Delta Air Lines (DAL), JetBlue (JBL), US Airways (AMW)/(USA), American Airlines (AAL), and Continental Airlines (CAL), reportedly will participate. The (DOT) and the (FAA) are hoping the gathering will facilitate a voluntary solution to the congestion problem, but officials have warned that the government could step in to impose a solution on airlines at New York's three major airports, (JFK), LaGuardia and Newark. "Our first choice is to find market-based incentives to fix delays so we can preserve passenger choice, but we will consider imposing scheduling restrictions as one option to avoid a repeat of this summer's delays," Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters said. USA Dept of Justice officials will participate in the meeting to ensure adherence to antitrust laws. (ATA) President & CEO, James May promised that member carriers "are fully committed to working closely with all stakeholders to address the challenges associated with the growing demand for air travel in and out of the New York area."

The USA Depatment of Transportation (DOT) released "target figures" for the number of flights, it believes can be handled "safely" at New York (JFK), ahead of meetings between the government and airlines serving the airport. The (DOT) recommended that flights per hour be capped at 80 from 6 am to 9:59 pm each day, with one extra allowed during the 3 pm - 7:59 pm period. No more than 44 flights will be allowed during any 30-minute period, and no more than 24 in any
15-minute period, the (DOT) said, adding that the ratio of departures to arrivals, also will be regulated. It said it based its conclusions on data collected from July 2005 through July 2007, during which airlines increased (JFK) operations by +40% and suffered a -59% decline in ontime arrival performance. (DOT) Secretary, Mary Peters reiterated that the department's "strong preference is to develop market-based solutions . . . but we will consider scheduling reductions as a last resort." The Port Authority of New
York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) called the (DOT)/(FAA) proposal "a recipe for worsening the problem by pushing growing passenger demand to other airports" and said the cuts are "equivalent to the cap at (JFK) in the late 1960s." The (PANYNJ) said it would have had to
turn away some 10,000 passengers per day if (JFK) had operated under similar restrictions last year. Flight demand increased +41% from March 2006 through August 2007, it said. Instead, the Authority proposed that capacity be expanded through the use of new technology, capital improvements and the recently acquired Stewart International Airport, about 55 miles north of New York City, as well as "better management of planes" - - including an additional westbound departure route, and construction of more taxiways - - and a $34 million initiative to improve customer service during delays. Air Transport Assn President & CEO, James May called the (DOT)'s decision "disappointing" and said, "There are better solutions to New York's capacity needs, and we are committed to working with the (FAA) to put them into effect."

The USA Air Transport Association blasted the New York (JFK) airline scheduling meeting being held in Washington at the behest of the USA Dept of Transportation (DOT) and the (FAA), as "fundamentally flawed" and said the (DOT) appears intent on imposing "anti-marketplace" schedule reductions and "most likely" congestion pricing at the crowded airport. "We're very much opposed to the direction the department is heading," (ATA) President & (CEO), James May said. Ahead of the "voluntary" meeting, the (DOT) recommended that flights per hour at (JFK) be capped at 80 from 6 am to 9:59 pm each day, but May asserted that in "good weather," (JFK) is capable of handling 100 operations per hour and "in reasonably good weather," can handle 87 to 94 flights per hour. "The target you should shoot for is probably around 90-plus operations per hour," May said, suggesting that the (DOT) and the (FAA) should accelerate New York airspace redesign and take other Air Traffic Control (ATC) management steps that could reduce delays at (JFK) by -14% year-over-year by next summer. "There are very real operational and procedural adjustments, that could be made in the near term," he said. "Carriers have invested millions and millions of dollars in establishing operations [from (JFK)] to destinations all over the world, and [the (DOT) is] trying to nip in the bud that new service." Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters said in opening remarks, that she has "been very candid about our strong preference for using market mechanisms like congestion pricing to preserve passenger choice while reducing delays," adding: "We have got a problem with crippling congestion and debilitating delays at (JFK) . . . and we are going to do what it takes to address it."
(FAA) Acting Administrator, Bobby Sturgell said, "The bottom line [at (JFK) over the summer] is that the afternoon and evening hours were scheduled beyond capacity even in ideal weather. Departure delays and taxi times routinely exceeded an hour in the evening." But May said the (FAA) must do its part "to increase throughput" at (JFK) rather than "artificially limiting operations per hour" and using a "meat ax" to "slash capacity at a leading international gateway . . . We can't simply hang a no vacancy sign out because we can't handle more traffic." He added that the (ATA) will "challenge in court" any attempt to impose congestion pricing and will challenge caps on operations "legislatively."

(FAA) Acting Administrator, Bobby Sturgell, later was nominated by President George W Bush to succeed Marion Blakey, whose five-year term as Administrator expired last month. Department of Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters urged Sturgell's confirmation, saying the former deputy administrator "has worked tirelessly . . . to fight congestion and modernize our aviation system, while preserving the safest period in aviation on record." The Air Transport Assn (ATA) lent its support, despite the current row over proposed schedule caps at New York (JFK). President & CEO, James May said Sturgell's "distinguished and varied background . . . uniquely equip[s] him to serve as the (FAA) Administrator."

November 2007: Saying that flight delays and cancellations have turned the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday period into "a season of dread for far too many Americans," President George W Bush outlined a series of initiatives to alleviate congestion, including temporarily opening up military airspace on the East Coast, and signaled his support for "congestion pricing" at crowded airports. Bush, who recently has made easing air traffic congestion an administration priority, offered the comments following a White House meeting with Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters and (FAA) Acting Administrator, Bobby Sturgell. He said the Dept of Defense (DOD) will "make available some of its airspace over the East Coast for use by civilian airliners" November 21 to 26. He added that the (FAA) "will impose a holiday moratorium on all nonessential projects, so that the (FAA) can focus its personnel and equipment exclusively on keeping flights ontime." He noted that the Dept of Transportation (DOT) and the (FAA) "are encouraging airlines to take their own measures to prevent delays," and claimed carriers have pledged to "set aside extra seats and even extra planes to help accommodate passengers affected by cancellations and delays." Bush added that he wants "new regulations to help ensure that airline passengers are treated fairly," including a proposal to "double the amount of compensation passengers receive when they're forced off overbooked flights." He stated: "We want people who are responsible for moving passengers to understand that there will be consequences for these delays." He conceded that the measures "do not cure the underlying problem," which he said stems from airlines "scheduling more arrivals and departures than airports can possibly handle . . . The key to solving this problem is managing the demand for flights at overloaded airports." He asserted that "congestion pricing . . . has shown results in other areas of our economy," citing "EZ-Pass," which enables automobile drivers to gain expedited access through highway toll plazas. Airlines have opposed congestion pricing adamantly and dismissed comparisons to highway traffic. But Air Transport Assn, President & CEO, James May issued a conciliatory statement: "We share the administration's frustrations and applaud the efforts of President Bush, [(DOT) and (DOD)] for the numerous operational steps they are taking to improve air service and reduce delays." Peters said she will issue a proposal to require airlines to adopt "legally binding contingency plans for extended tarmac delays."

(NASA) (NAS) head, Michael Griffin told the USA House Science & Technology Committee, that the agency will reveal certain results from an $11.3 million survey of approximately 24,000 commercial pilots (FC), that reportedly revealed that near midair collisions and runway incursions occur far more often than (FAA) data indicate. Griffin said it was a "mistake" to withhold the data over fears that it would upset travelers and damage airlines, according to quotes cited by the "Associated Press," and promised that "survey results we can legally release, will be released" around year end. Concern over maintaining survey subjects' anonymity was cited as the reason for the delay.

The USA (FAA) announced a new rule "designed to mitigate conditions that put airliners at risk for wire failures, smoke and fire," enhancing safety requirements for design, installation and maintenance and adding new certification standards to address wire degradation, and "inadequate" design or maintenance. Manufacturers will have to complete approved instructions for wiring-related maintenance and inspection within two years of the effective date for existing airplanes, with airlines operating those airplanes instructed to complete programs based on those instructions within 39 months. Estimated cost of the rule is $416 million over 25 years.

USA Transportation Security Administration (TSA) faced harsh criticism following the release of a Congressional report stating that undercover investigators were able to pass through security checkpoints at 19 airports "undetected with components for several improvised explosive devices (IED)s . . . concealed in their carry-on luggage or on their person." (TSA) Administrator, Kip Hawley weathered a heated round of questioning from lawmakers at a House of Representatives hearing and downplayed the significance of the report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which said its investigators carried an assortment of "commercially available" components, including various liquids and detonator devices, through checkpoints and onto airplanes. Detailed descriptions of the materials and the rate of success in getting them aboard airplanes were not disclosed. Hawley said the smuggled materials were not assembled into bombs and dismissed the notion, advanced by (GAO) officials, that the components readily could be transformed into an explosive device in airplane lavatories. There is "a difference between catastrophic failure and having something unsafe aboard an airplane," he told lawmakers. "It's like bringing watch parts through [a checkpoint] and then saying, 'I'm going to assemble the watch during the flight.' It's not trivial to assemble these devices so they'll work." He added that the (GAO) tests were "not statistically significant" and are "not something [over which] the public should panic." He conceded that there are "vulnerabilities" in USA aviation security, but said (TSA) operates a "multilayered" system in which airport checkpoints are one element. "We recognize that we cannot protect every person or all property against every possible threat to the system," Hawley said, adding that the (TSA) is focused on stopping persons and materials that "can cause catastrophic damage" and asserted that the materials (GAO) got through checkpoints don't reach that threshold. Lawmakers were not convinced. Representative John Mica, (Republican-Florida) noted that (GAO) testers also were able to get dangerous objects through checkpoints in 2006. "This failure is not new," he said. "This seems to indicate that there is not improvement. In fact, we're losing ground." Reresentative Chris Shays (Republican-Connecticut) questioned Hawley's distinction that the materials were not assembled into (IED)s. "It seems to me that's a lawyer talking," he told the administrator. "Why should I take any solace in the fact that you say they weren't assembled?"

Meanwhile, the UK government intends to ease the present single cabin bag restriction from next year. Under the plan, airports will be able to seek permission from the Dept for Transport beginning January 7 to allow passengers to take more than one item of hand luggage onboard. Airports must prove they can maintain existing security levels. The UK is the only (EU) country to limit hand luggage to one item. The restriction was introduced in August last year, after UK police foiled an alleged plot to use liquid explosives to blow up USA-bound airplanes. Prime Minister, Gordon Brown simultaneously outlined plans for an "e-borders" scheme from mid-2009. The system will require up to 53 pieces of data from anyone entering or leaving the country. It will be collected when a ticket is purchased, and will be shared among police, customs, immigration and security services for at least 24 hours before the start of the journey.

December 2007: The New York Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) released its report outlining possible solutions to airspace congestion in the USA Northeast and the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) is expected to follow up this week with a formal proposal for reducing delays at New York (JFK), LaGuardia and Newark.

USA airline pilots (FC) may now stay on the job to age 65 rather than be forced to retire at 60, under legislation signed into law by the USA President, George W Bush. Pilots (FC) pressed for a fast signature by Bush after the Senate approved the legislation December 12, so that crew members (FC) could be prevented from being forced to retire. Bush signed the bill, the same day he received it from Congress. ``This is a great day for America's pilots, the traveling public and the country,'' Paul Emens, Chairman of Airline Pilots Against Age Discrimination, said in an e-mail. The bill signing is a victory for pilots (FC), many of whom lost much of their defined-benefit pensions in airline bankruptcies and wanted to work longer for financial need. The House approved the bill December 11. Each day of delay may have cost additional pilots (FC) their jobs. ``Commercial pilots (FC) expend tremendous time and money training for their careers,'' Senator Larry Craig, an Idaho Republican, said in a statement. ``Their income earning potential should not be arbitrarily cut off at age 60.'' Under the law, the retirement age is raised to 65 on international flights, with the condition that the other cockpit pilot (FC) is younger than 60. On domestic flights, both pilots (FC) can be 60 to 65. The (FAA), which set the age-60 rule in 1959 for safety reasons, concluded that there is no medical justification for the standard. Former (FAA) Chief, Marion Blakey said January 30 that the agency will raise the age to 65 in a rule-making process.

The law is effective immediately, the (FAA) said, adding that airlines have the option to rehire previously retired pilots (FC) still under 65, but that it is not "mandatory." Rehired pilots (FC) would lose their seniority levels.

USA lawmakers who backed the higher retirement age, wanted to speed up the change to prevent more pilots (FC) from retiring. An average of five per day reached the age-60 retirement age, according to the Air Transport Association airline trade group. The House voted September 20 and November 14 to increase the mandatory retirement age, and the Senate voted to raise it September 12. Those plans got stuck in (FAA) and Transportation Department budget bills held up by funding differences. House and Senate lawmakers decided to move new legislation raising the retirement age that was not tied to any other issues. The new proposal passed unanimously in both chambers.
``We're prepared'' to implement the higher retirement age, (FAA) spokeswoman, Laura Brown said December 12.

Southwest Airlines (SWA) and JetBlue Airways (JBL) in particular benefit from the change, and those two low-cost carriers (LCC) pushed for it more aggressively than rivals. The two airlines don't have defined-benefit pension plans, which get more expensive to maintain as employees stay on the job longer.

The Air Line Pilots Association, the largest USA pilots' (FC) union, in May switched to support of the age-65 retirement, ending three decades of opposition.

The USA Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on runway safety that cast doubt on the (FAA)'s recent claims of progress in reducing incursions, concluding that "the rate of runway incursions has not decreased over the last five years" and citing lapses by the agency in implementing runway safety initiatives. The (FAA) recently touted "significant short-term actions" taken to improve runway safety, but the (GAO) noted, that it "has not prepared a national runway safety plan since 2002, despite agency policy that it be updated every 2 to 3 years." It added that technology currently being deployed "is experiencing some operational difficulties," and that "additional technology to prevent runway collisions is years away from deployment." It warned that "increased congestion at airports may exacerbate ground safety concerns." Senator Frank Lautenberg (Democrat-New Jersey), who requested the (GAO) report, said, "the (FAA) is taking too many chances and ignoring too many red flags." House of Representative Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman, James Oberstar (Democrat-Minnesota) called the report "distressing," adding that the (FAA)'s "lack of coordination and leadership, technology challenges, the lack of data, and human factors-related issues, have seriously hindered significant progress on runway safety."

The USA National Transportation Safety Board recommended that the (FAA) require installation of fire suppression systems in all cargo airplanes operating under Part 121, following its investigation into a fire that destroyed a (UPS) DC-8 in February 2006 in Philadelphia. Fire started "from an unknown source within one of the containers in the main cargo compartment," the (NTSB) said, concluding "that the threat from cargo fires could be mitigated by the installation of fire suppression systems."

USA aerospace industry civil airplane sales jumped +16% this year to $53 billion, nearly matching the value of military airplane sales, Aerospace Industries Assn (AIA) President & (CEO), Marion Blakey said in Washington. USA aerospace industry sales will total $198.8 billion in 2007, up +8.5% over 2006. Blakey said revenues from civil airplane sales should climb +13% to $60.4 billion in 2008, exceeding military airplane sales for the first time since 2002. The aerospace backlog for USA manufacturers is projected to total $360 billion at year end 2007, a majority of which is in the civil sector, she added. Employment in the aerospace sector rose for a fourth straight year to 637,000 from an industry low of 587,000 in 2003.

January 2008: USA Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would allow airports to base charges assessed to airlines on "the time of day and the volume of traffic," rather than just airplane weight, raising the possibility that "congestion pricing" could be imposed by airports.

(ARINC) won USA (FAA) certification for issuing airplane Supplemental Type Certificates (STC)s and performing related service and modification work under the new Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program. (ODA) regulations allow the (FAA) to delegate additional responsibility to private industry, reducing workload, while streamlining airplane certification and inspection. The agency expects the (ODA) program to replace its existing Designated Alteration Station program by November 2009.

February 2008: USA (FAA) Acting Administrator, Bobby Sturgell's nomination to a five-year term to lead the agency is in doubt following the recent contentious confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce and Transportation Committee, and a procedural tactic initiated by two senators that prevents the chamber from voting on the matter.

The USA House of Representatives passed an extension of temporary (FAA) funding through June 30, including providing $2.76 billion in contract authority to restart the currently suspended Airport Improvement Program (AIP).

The USA and Australia announced an "open skies" agreement in Washington at the conclusion of three days of negotiations. Australia becomes the USA's 90th "open skies" partner.

Honeywell (SGC) received (TSO) approval from the USA (FAA) for its Aircraft Environment Surveillance System (AESS). It said the (AESS) is "the first and only" integrated surveillance system to obtain this approval. The system combines (TCAS), Mode S transponders, (EGPWS), and RDR-4000 weather radar into a single unit.

Airways New Zealand, Airservices Australia, and the USA (FAA) signed a trilateral agreement to accelerate development of air traffic control (ATC) procedures among the three countries, that will reduce aviation's environmental footprint. Dubbed (ASPIRE) - - Asia & South Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions - - the accord aims to provide a regional platform for a host of technologies pioneered by the trio.

The FAA and the City of Los Angeles are partnering to install a "Runway Status Lights" system at Los Angeles International (LAX). The system uses a series of red lights embedded in the pavement to warn pilots (FC) if it is unsafe to cross or enter a runway. Los Angeles World Airports is funding the $6 million cost of the system, on which tests will begin at (LAX) early next year. The (FAA) will be responsible for installing, testing, evaluating and maintaining the system. Pilots (FC) approaching a runway equipped with "Runway Status Lights" (RSL) will see red lights illuminated if the airport's ground surveillance radar detects traffic on or approaching that runway. (RSL) systems are already in place at Dallas/Fort Worth and San Diego.

March 2008: USA Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters announced that the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the (FAA) will begin using Florida this summer as a "test-bed" for the planned satellite-based Next-Gen Air Traffic Control (ATC) system, including a "rollout" of undisclosed technology at Daytona Beach International, use of "a new descent technique in Miami that saves fuel and reduces noise, as well as emissions" and deployment of ADS-B technology along the state's Gulf Coast.

The USA (FAA) proposed a $10.2 million civil penalty against Southwest Airlines (SWA) "for operating 46 airplanes without performing mandatory inspections for fuselage fatigue cracking," representing "deliberate violations" of an agency airworthiness directive. The fine, if it becomes final, would be the largest-ever penalty imposed by the (FAA) on an airline for safety violations. The agency said it issued a 2004 Airworthiness Directive (AD) mandating repetitive external detailed and eddy-current inspections on older 737 models at intervals of no more than 4,500 flight cycles to detect fatigue cracking in areas of the fuselage skin. The (FAA) alleges that from June 18, 2006, to March 14, 2007, (SWA) operated 46 737 Classics on 59,791 flights "while failing to comply" with the (AD). "Subsequently, the airline found that six of the 46 airplanes had fatigue cracks," it said. "The (FAA) is taking action against Southwest Airlines (SWA) for failing to follow rules that are designed to protect passengers and crew," said Associate Administrator Aviation Safety, Nicholas Sabatini. "We expect the airline industry to fully comply with all (FAA) directives and take corrective action." The (FAA) further alleges that after (SWA) "discovered that it had failed to accomplish the required repetitive inspections . . . it continued to operate those same 46 airplanes on an additional +1,451 flights [in March 2007]. The amount of the civil penalty reflects the serious nature of those deliberate violations."

(SWA), which boasts often of having a stellar safety record, has 30 days to respond formally respond to the allegations. (SWA) said it had found "the start of some very small cracking" on six of the 46 737 Classics. "These are safe planes," (SWA) insisted, adding that it believed the matter had been settled last year.

USA Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters vowed to take action "swiftly" if "serious allegations" that (FAA) Safety Inspectors were negligent in their oversight of (SWA) are true.

American Airlines (AAL) cancelled more than >300 flights, when it temporarily grounded an unspecified number of MD-80s to inspect wiring. The move resulted from the USA (FAA)'s ongoing audit of domestic airlines' compliance with (FAA) Airworthiness Directives (AD)s. "During the audit of (AAL), a joint team of (AAL) and (FAA) inspectors raised questions regarding an already accomplished (AD) concerning how a certain bundle of wires is secured to the MD-80 airplane," (AAL) said. "We are re-inspecting the MD-80s to make sure the wiring is installed and secured exactly according to the directive (AD)." (AAL) said cancellations were necessary because "the process can take several hours per airplane." The planes were slated to be returned to service "on a rolling basis" once inspections were completed. The airline operates more than >300 MD-80s. The (FAA), which has become increasingly vigilant after proposing a record $10.2 million fine against Southwest Airlines (SWA) for alleged safety violations, recommended that other MD-80 operators also inspect wiring. But it stopped short of ordering carriers to ground airplanes.

Delta Air Lines (DAL) grounded 117 MD-88s to inspect wiring, leading to an expected 275 flight cancellations. The move came a day after (AAL) began wiring inspections on all 309 of its MD-80s. (AAL)'s inspections continued, leading to more than >130 flight cancellations in addition to the 325 it cancelled previously. Inspections stem from the USA (FAA)'s audit of domestic airlines' compliance with agency airworthiness directives (AD)s. "(DAL) is working in full partnership with the (FAA), and is proactively and voluntarily revalidating the full compliance of a prior Airworthiness Directive (AD) completed earlier this year," it said. It added that an "aggressive and proactive re-inspection schedule" would allow it to return to a full schedule. According to (AAL), the inspections are to ensure that bundles of wires on auxiliary hydraulic systems are installed and spaced in accordance with an (AD). (AAL) said inspections would be completed, allowing a return to a normal schedule. (DAL) said it added extra staff at its Atlanta hub to help deal with the crowds of passengers the cancellations were expected to cause. (SWA) and United Airlines (UAL) also have grounded airplanes temporarily this month for inspections.

USA Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters announced that airlines serving Newark International (EWR) have agreed formally to cap flights temporarily to 83 per hour beginning in early May. The (DOT), which imposed a cap at New York (JFK) of 83 flights per hour beginning this month, announced in December that it would impose a similar cap at (EWR) and pegged the airport's capacity at 83 flights per hour. Peters said airlines will "spread flights for two years at a level that will allow 30 more flights per day than last summer, while helping to reduce chronic delays." The cap will apply to both domestic and international flights.

The USA (FAA) mandated "significant upgrades" to airplane Cockpit Voice (CVR) and Flight Data Recorders (FDR). All voice recorders (CVR)/(FDR) in airplanes carrying more than >10 people must capture the last 2 hours of cockpit audio instead of the current 15 to 30 minutes. The new rule also requires an independent backup power source for voice recorders to allow continued recording for 9 to 11 minutes if all power sources are lost or interrupted. "Voice recorders also must use solid state technology instead of magnetic tape, which is vulnerable to damage and loss of reliability," the (FAA ) said.

The new rule further mandates that (FDR)s measure more frequently, including primary flight control movements and pilots (FC)'s movement of controls. The recorders also must retain the last 25 hours of recorded information. It formalizes current (FAA) policy that voice and data recorders must be housed in separate units and cannot be disabled by a single electrical failure. The rule applies to all airplanes manufactured after March 7, 2010, and calls for retrofitting of some equipment on prior-built airplanes by March 7, 2012.

Lawmakers heard explosive testimony from (FAA) inspectors who said they repeatedly highlighted concerns over (SWA)'s compliance with (AD)s, but were shunned by supervisors who "looked the other way." The inspectors said attempts to report wrongdoing in the (FAA)'s (SWA) Certificate Management Office in Dallas led to harassment and threats of termination from supervisors. Douglas Gawadzinski, then the (FAA)'s supervisory Principal Maintenance Inspector for (SWA), told the airline that it could continue operating the 46 airplanes in March 2007 even after (SWA) disclosed noncompliance related to fuselage skin inspections. (FAA) Associate Administrator, Aviation Safety, Nicholas Sabatini told the House panel that Gawadzinski's actions were "truly disturbing" and said he had been "removed from any safety duties . . . It's absolutely Safety 101: You don't let noncompliant airplanes fly." While Gawadzinski is still employed by the (FAA), "my expectation is that person is in the office essentially counting paper clips," Sabatini said.

But the (FAA)'s top safety official also had harsh words for (SWA), against which the (FAA) has proposed a $10.2 million fine. "That an airline with (SWA)'s reputation would think that it was permissible to operate airplanes that were in noncompliance with an (AD) is astounding to me," he said.

(SWA) Chairman, Herb Kelleher said it would be a "mistake to toss out the whole voluntary disclosure program . . . I think it would cause airlines to be less forthcoming." He added that the (FAA) and airlines are "married to each other in effect," but agreed that the relationship shouldn't be "kissy-kissy." The regulator should be "firm" without being "totally hostile," he said.

Later, the USA (FAA) removed Southwest (SWA) Region Manager Flight Standards, Thomas Stuckey from his position, the latest fallout from the ongoing controversy over (FAA)'s oversight of (SWA). The (FAA)'s Dallas area office was portrayed as dysfunctional and plagued by "regulatory abuse" at a House of Representatives hearing. Stuckey, who testified at the hearing along with other (FAA) officials, has been placed in an "administrative position that has no safety oversight duties," the (FAA) said. He was accused by Inspectors from the (SWA) Certificate Management Office of ignoring their repeated complaints that their supervisors were "looking the other way," when confronted with evidence that the airline was not complying with airworthiness directives (AD)s. The Inspectors further alleged that supervisors harassed and threatened to terminate those who wanted to report safety lapses.

United Airlines (UAL) grounded all 52 of its 777s, after disclosing to the USA (FAA) that a review of its maintenance records revealed that required checks on cargo fire suppression systems were "not performed." (UAL) cancelled an estimated 38 flights on one day as it conducted the inspections. It said one of five bottles in the 777's cargo fire suppression systems had been overlooked during routine maintenance checks. "This system is regularly tested as part of the preflight safety checks," (UAL) said. "These checks [now being conducted] are related to compliance. (UAL) will not operate these airplanes until the tests are complete . . . We apologize for any inconvenience." It granted full refunds to passengers for cancelled flights. The grounding follows similar moves by other USA airlines in the midst of increased scrutiny of the (FAA)'s safety oversight, the focus of an upcoming Congressional hearing.

Later, (AAL) cancelled "several hundred" flights in order to conduct additional MD-80 inspections and "ensure precise and complete compliance with the (FAA)'s airworthiness directive (AD) related to the bundling of wires in the airplane's wheel wells." (AAL) said the cancellations could number as many as 500 and that additional cancellations are likely later. It cancelled hundreds of flights in the final week of March, as it pulled MD-80s for inspection of wire bundles on auxiliary hydraulic systems.

(AAL) said the (FAA) "raised additional concerns regarding the recent inspection of (AAL)'s airplanes and the manner in which (AAL) followed the Engineering Change Order (ECO) that had been written for the airworthiness directive (AD) related to the wiring in the MD-80 wheel wells." It said the airplanes would be returned to service only after all specifications have been met and added that it has applied for and received (FAA) approval for an "alternative method of compliance" for the particular (AD) that already has been applied to MD-80s belonging to other airlines.

The USA Department of Transportation (DOT) named Marie Kennington-Gardiner, New York Aviation Czar.

April 2008: American Airlines (AAL)'s schedule continued to be impacted heavily by (FAA)-mandated MD-80 inspections, as the carrier cancelled another 922 flights - - approximately 40% of its schedule - - while attempting to fly out of the accompanying public relations storm. At a news conference, Chairman & (CEO), Gerard Arpey issued yet another apology and said the cancellations would cost the carrier "tens of millions of dollars." The "Dallas Morning News" reported that (AAL) asked the (FAA) for more time to inspect the wiring bundles inside the wheel wells of its MD-80 fleet, but was denied. The carrier said that an estimated 130 airplanes were scheduled to have completed inspection and be back in service, but that the full fleet of 300 MD-80s would not be flying again until later. An estimated 210 airplanes are expected to be operational at its last check.

(AAL) said customers on canceled flights may apply for a refund or apply the ticket's value toward future travel, while customers scheduled to fly on any MD-80 flight April 8 though 11, cancelled or not, will be allowed to rebook without cost for travel by April 17. (AAL) canceled 1,094 flights one day and 460 on another.

Midwest Airlines (MWX) and Alaska Airlines (ASA) also pulled MD-80s from service in order to ensure compliance with the (FAA) airworthiness directives (AD)s. Midwest (MWX) cancelled 14 flights as it conducted additional inspections on auxiliary hydraulic pump wiring, while (ASA) cut 11 flights from its schedule to inspect wheel well wiring on nine airplanes. It echoed comments from (AAL) assuring that the "(FAA) inspections are focused on detailed, technical specifications and not safety-of-flight issues."

USA Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters said that she will move quickly to determine why it was necessary for (AAL) to cancel 3,300 flights two weeks ago to conduct safety inspections and announced a series of steps she said will improve the (FAA('s safety oversight system. The (FAA) has come under intense scrutiny over the past several weeks, first for allowing Southwest Airlines (SWA) to operate 46 737 Classics that were non-compliant with an agency Airworthiness Directive (AD), then for pervasive dysfunction at its Dallas-area field office, described at a Congressional hearing, and most recently for mandating MD-80 groundings at (AAL) that wreaked havoc with air travel throughout the USA. Peters said she has requested "assessments" from both the (FAA) and (AAL) to determine "what could have been done differently." She said that "travelers should simply not pay the price for unmet deadlines" and expressed concern that "so many travelers had to be inconvenienced."

The USA airline industry may be much closer to achieving carbon neutral growth than is widely assumed, according to the (FAA) Assistant Administrator for Aviation Policy, Planning & Environment, Dan Elwell. Elwell noted that the (FAA) expects USA traffic to grow at an average annual rate of around +4% (RPM)s, although short-term growth may be below that, owing to the recent failures of three airlines that accounted for around 1% of system capacity, as well as capacity reductions at major carriers owing to the high cost of fuel. Against that 4% long-term trend, the (FAA) expects that implementation of its NextGen air traffic management technologies, combined with fleet replacement and improved operational procedures, can contribute to a -3.5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions each year. That leaves just a 1.5% gap, which could be covered as renewable biofuels come to the market. Elwell and Carl Burleson, Director of the (FAA)'s Office of the Environment & Energy, noted that since 2003, the (FAA) has had a goal of achieving a +1% improvement in fuel efficiency. "We were the first aviation authority in the world to set energy efficiency targets," Burleson told reporters. Data show that actual results have far exceeded the target, with USA airlines' fuel efficiency already well below the original target set for 2011. "Aviation's performance is significantly better than even rail," Elwell claimed. Overall, USA airline Green House Gas (GHG) emissions have declined -3.7% since 2000 , even as passenger numbers rose +12%. By comparison, the European Union (EU) aviation (GHG) emissions grew +32.8% over the same period. "For us, results trump regulations," Elwell said, drawing a contrast to the (EU)'s desire to impose emissions trading.

The (FAA) removed two senior Dallas-area, Air Traffic Control (ATC) Managers from their positions, following revelations in a government report that Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Terminal Approach Control (TRACON) management "routinely and intentionally" misclassified (ATC) operational errors and deviations as pilot (FC) errors or nonevents.
The damaging report from the the Dept of Transportation Inspector General (IG) found that (ATC) Managers covered up mistakes and that complaints by a whistleblower controller were not responded to by the (FAA). The agency, which has been criticized heavily for dysfunction at its Dallas-area office that oversees Southwest Airlines (SWA), responded quickly, removing the (DFW) (TRACON) Facility Manager and Assistant Manager and announcing new measures to prevent misclassification of (ATC) operational errors. "I am deeply disturbed by the findings in this report," Air Traffic Organization (COO), Hank Krakowski said.

According to the (FAA), the (IG) found that "management at the Dallas-Fort Worth (TRACON) investigated operational errors and deviations, but routinely and intentionally misclassified them as pilot (FC) errors or nonevents. The report was prompted by whistleblower allegations . . . It found that between November 2005 and July 2007, (TRACON) Managers misclassified 62 air traffic events as pilot (FC) deviation or nonevents when in fact there were 52 operational errors and 10 operational deviations." The agency noted that no such misclassifications have been discovered at other (TRACON)s. Krakowski said the (FAA) will accelerate deployment of the Traffic Analysis Review Program, software that automatically detects losses of airplane separation at terminal facilities and will prevent misclassification. Full nationwide deployment will be completed by the end of 2009. The (FAA) also will establish an independent "quality assurance position" to oversee incident reporting and "audit the data integrity of facility reports." The (IG) said that a whistleblower Controller first alleged impropriety at the (DFW) (TRACON) in 2002 and repeated the allegations over the next several years but, similar to complaints made by investigators overseeing (SWA ) Maintenance, the (FAA) did not follow up. "The intentional distortion of reporting incidents defeats our ability to understand the root causes of errors and enact mitigation if we see a trend developing," Krakowski said.

May 2008: American Airlines (AAL) and the USA (FAA) turned in reports to Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters regarding last month's disruptive grounding of (AAL) MD-80s, and the carrier reportedly detailed an inconsistent oversight response by the (FAA), including discord between the agency's Washington headquarters and a Dallas area field office. Peters has expressed concern over the 3,300 flight cancellations that resulted from the groundings, lamenting that passengers had to "pay the price" as (AAL) inspected airplanes to ensure compliance with an (FAA) airworthiness directive (AD) related to wiring.

(AAL) Chairman & (CEO), Gerard Arpey has said there "wasn't a safety of flight issue" with the MD-80s and that the carrier "applied for an alternate means of compliance with the (FAA)" that would have allowed it to keep operating its schedule but was "rejected" and forced to ground the airplanes. The "Wall Street Journal" reported that (AAL)'s report to Peters claimed that the carrier had a "handshake agreement" with regional Dallas (FAA) officials to conduct inspections and make wiring repairs without grounding airplanes, but that (FAA) headquarters abruptly overruled the local officials, forcing it to cancel flights with little notice to passengers.

The (AAL) groundings occurred the same week that the agency removed Southwest Region Manager Flight Standards, Thomas Stuckey from his position after the Dallas area office was portrayed as dysfunctional at a House of Representatives hearing. Stuckey's oversight jurisdiction included both Southwest Airlines (SWA), the subject of the House hearing, and (AAL).

The (FAA) was criticized heavily when it was revealed that the supervisory, Principal Maintenance Inspector (PMI) for (SWA) told the airline it could continue operating 46 737 Classics in March 2007, even after (SWA) disclosed (AD) noncompliance related to fuselage skin inspections. In the week prior to the (AAL) groundings, (DOT) Inspector General, Calvin Scovel alleged that local (FAA) officials overseeing (SWA) had "an overly collaborative" relationship with the airline, resulting in "critical safety lapses," and that there was a "disconnect" between agency headquarters and field offices.

(AAL)'s version of events suggests that the (FAA)'s actions regarding the MD-80s, may have been influenced by the revelations regarding (SWA). Acting (FAA) Administrator, Bobby Sturgell complained at a Congressional hearing, following the (AAL) cancellations, that the same "critics" who lambasted the (FAA) for its handling of (SWA), "berate us for doing the job, as in the case of American (AAL)'s MD-80s." (AAL) estimated that the cost of the groundings was in the "high tens of millions of dollars."

The USA (FAA) said that more than five years have elapsed since it conducted assessments on 103 system designs at eight airlines, exceeding the timeframe during which the reviews were supposed to have taken place, and the latest in a string of admissions by the (FAA) regarding lapses in its airline oversight. During a House of Representatives hearing last month on safety lapses at (SWA), Dept of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General, Calvin Scovel said the (FAA) hadn't conducted a review of (SWA)'s (AD) compliance program since 1999, even though such a review is required at least once every five years. At a subsequent Senate hearing, Senator Patty Murray (Democrat-Washington) asked Acting (FAA) Administrator, Bobby Sturgell if there were any other instances when the (FAA) had missed such a review. In an April 22 letter to Murray just made public, Sturgell admitted that a large number of reviews had been missed, but he emphasized that system design assessments - - top-to-bottom reviews of airlines' various maintenance and safety systems to ensure regulatory compliance - - are "recommended but not required." He explained in the letter, provided by Murray's office, that he could not provide "definitive data on why these inspections were deferred, because the automated data collection system we used at the time, did not require inspectors to document the reasons for delay." He said it was "likely . . . assessments were not completed because inspectors were assessing the performance of the systems, and the data indicated the system performed properly, and therefore was adequately designed." He added that "inadequate resources" were another "possible" reason reviews were missed.

Scovel said 2004 "should have been a drop-dead date" for the (FAA) to conduct its assessment of (SWA)'s (AD) compliance program, but the lapse was allowed to continue for another four years. "Why didn't higher authorities at the (FAA) know that?" he asked.

INCDT: The USA (FAA) is investigating why a fuselage panel fell off an American Airlines (AAL) 767 following takeoff from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) last month en route to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG), the "Associated Press" reported. The agency also is examining why the airplane carried on to (CDG), rather than returning to (DFW). An internal (AAL) memo obtained by the "AP" stated that while pictures of the fuselage with a missing panel "are very dramatic," the flight did not pose a safety risk. Pilots (FC) heard a loud noise shortly after takeoff, but did not know what it was, and "obviously" would have returned to (DFW) had they been aware of the missing panel, the memo said.

USA Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters moved broadly to reassure passengers regarding flight cancellations and delays, saying the USA (FAA) and airlines will work to develop a better "mutual understanding" on safety compliance to avoid widespread airplane groundings and proposing new slot rules including auctions for New York (JFK) and Newark. She additionally issued a final rule requiring "airlines to report new and more complete data on the time passengers spend on the tarmac" in an effort to reduce the instances of travelers stranded on delayed airplanes for extended periods.

Peters previously expressed dissatisfaction with (AAL)'s' 3,300 flight cancellations over several days in April, while MD-80s were grounded for airworthiness directive (AD) compliance inspections. Both (AAL) and the (FAA) issued reports later to Peters, with (AAL) reportedly alleging an inconsistent oversight response in which the agency's Washington headquarters abruptly overturned an agreement between (AAL) and the (FAA)'s Dallas area field office to conduct inspections without grounding airplanes.

(ATA) President & (CEO), James May blasted the (DOT)'s "continued fixation on auctions, despite the overwhelming rejection by passengers, airlines and airports to such an experiment."

The USA (FAA) said its Adaptive Compression software, which went into operation in March 2007, and scans airport arrival slots emptied by a cancellation, delay or rerouting for incoming traffic at constrained airports, saved airlines -$27 million and 1.1 million delay minutes in its first year of operation.

June 2008: Southwest Airlines (SWA) will invest $175 million to implement Required Navigation Performance (RNP) fleetwide for use at 64 USA airports, (SWA) announced at the Eco-Aviation conference presented by Air Transport World (ATW) and Leeham Co in Washington. Senior Director Flight Operations, Jeff Martin said (SWA) is teaming with Naverus and the (FAA) to jumpstart the USA's transition to a satellite-based NextGen Air Traffic Control (ATC) system. "This is in line with the (FAA)'s future direction roadmap," he told attendees at the conference. He added that "for a single minute of time saved on each flight, the annual savings quickly add up" and will reach 156,000 metric tons of reduction in emissions per year by 2015, when the airline anticipates 95% deployment. It also will achieve -$25 million in fuel savings per year, he said.

(SWA), Naverus and the (FAA) have been discussing the initiative since May 2007. The (RNP) program will involve training the airline's 5,700 pilots (FC), equipping the entire fleet of both 737NGs and Classics to be (RNP)-capable, developing (RNP) procedures, and making necessary airport upgrades. "Implementing (RNP) offers the single greatest opportunity to make near-term gains in reducing harmful emissions, improving fuel efficiency, increasing airspace capacity and maximizing flight safety," Naverus CEO, Dan Gerrity said. (SWA) aims to begin implementing (RNP) by fall 2009. Martin said the initial focus will be "in the Dallas-Houston area, which is our backyard." He added, "We hope that the rest of the industry will follow, once we prove the business case."

The USA (FAA) announced that Bulgaria has been raised to a Category 1 safety rating from the Category 2 imposed in September 2003. It said Bulgaria was in compliance with (ICAO) standards in a January reassessment.

July 2008: USA (FAA) Acting Administrator, Bobby Sturgell and European Commission VP Transport, Antonio Tajani signed a safety agreement that "broadens and deepens the regulatory collaboration between the (FAA) and its European counterparts in (EASA) and national authorities," the (FAA) said in a statement. The agency said the accord provides for "reciprocal acceptance" of safety findings in airplane design, airworthiness and repair station oversight. It also "broadens the scope of potential future USA acceptance of European aeronautical products" to all (EU) member states; currently the USA accepts products only from 14 (EU) states with which it has individual agreements. The pact additionally "promotes safety and harmonization by providing for regulatory cooperation, particularly in rulemaking, and safety data exchange," the (FAA) said. It establishes a bilateral oversight board to manage implementation of joint safety initiatives and serve as a forum to discuss air safety issues. "The agreement is a historical milestone not only because it is the first aviation safety agreement the European Community (EC) has concluded with a third country, but also because of its impact on aviation safety on a global scale," Tajani said, adding that "(EU) and USA citizens will benefit from harmonized safety systems as well as faster and less costly technical and administrative procedures." The agreement is subject to an exchange of diplomatic notes, ratification procedures and "final arrangements regarding (EASA) fees and the settlement of charges," the (FAA) said. While it did not specify the fees to which it is referring, USA aerospace companies have complained about having to "pay twice" to get products certified by (EASA) even after going through and completing the (FAA) certification process. Tajani said the (EC) will pursue a similar accord with Canada later this year in an effort to create cooperative air safety regulation among "the world's three major players in aviation and avionics manufacturing."

The USA Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Inspector General (IG) said last month it will "conduct a series of audits" into then (FAA)'s safety oversight of USA airlines. "Our reviews will include visits to the (FAA)'s headquarters, regional and field offices, and various air carrier offices," the (IG) office said. A review of the agency's oversight of one airline in particular will be conducted, it said, but it declined to name the airline. It said the reviews were prompted by Congressional hearings during the spring that highlighted lapses in the (FAA)'s oversight of airlines, particularly Southwest Airlines (SWA), which admitted to knowingly operating 737 Classics in March 2007, that were in noncompliance with an (FAA) Airworthiness Directive (AD).

July 2008: The USA (FAA) was guilty of "serious lapses" in its regulatory oversight of Southwest Airlines (SWA), allowing airworthiness directive (AD) "noncompliance issues within (SWA)'s maintenance program to go undetected for years," leading to repeated violations, the USA Department of Transportation, Inspector General alleged in a recent scathing report.

The USA (FAA) issued new airworthiness directives this week requiring "repetitive inspections for cracking" of overwing frames on MD-80s and of the upper frame to side frame splice on the fuselage of 737 Classics. American Airlines (AAL) is the largest operator of the MD-80 and Southwest Airlines (SWA) is the largest operator of the 737 Classic series, but one or both of the types are present in the fleets of most other USA major airlines. It does not appear that the (AD)s, to take effect next month, will require widespread groundings like those that occurred earlier this year.

The USA Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a final rule that will permit USA airports to base airline rates and charges on "market incentives," as well as the traditional airplane weight metric currently used, opening the door for operators of congested airports to impose higher fees on airplanes landing during peak hours. "The . . . policy [gives] busy airports the ability to use market incentives to help spread flights throughout the day," Transportation Secretary, Mary Peters said. "Effective immediately, overcrowded airports will . . . [have] the flexibility to vary charges based on time of day." USA airlines have fought federal government proposals to impose "congestion pricing" at crowded airports and (DOT) General Counsel, D J Gribbin insisted that the new rule "is not congestion pricing per se" but rather a mechanism that gives local airport authorities more autonomy to manage traffic. "This allows the airport to control something that otherwise would be controlled by the federal government," he said. "This is pricing that affects congestion but it is not congestion pricing." The USA Air Transport Association had no comment, but when the rule was proposed in January, President & CEO, James May called it "nothing more than congestion pricing disguised as an airport fee." Gribbin conceded that airlines are "not wildly enthusiastic" about the rule.

Airports Council International, North America President, Greg Principato praised it, however, saying it recognizes that "airport proprietors are in the best position to manage the use of the facilities they planned, financed, built and currently operate."

The (DOT) noted that the takeoff and landing fees still will have to be "revenue neutral." But the new policy does allow airport operators "to include the cost of projects designed to expand capacity in the new landing fees," Peters explained. "Currently, airports can only include those costs after the projects have been completed."

Gribbin said there are "a couple of handfuls of airports throughout the country that experience significant delays" for which the new rule will apply. He noted that airports the (FAA) designates as "likely to be congested in the future" also will be able to base fees on traffic levels during peak periods. "We didn't want to say you have to get congested before you implement these changes," he said. He cautioned that many airport/airline agreements governing landing charges include clauses that "don't allow for variable fees" and that airports would have to wait until the agreements come up for renewal before implementing the new rates and charges rule.

The USA (FAA) Office of the Environment & Energy Director, Carl Burleson said that the agency hopes to have a "synthetic fuel blend" for powering commercial airplanes "certified by the end of this year." He told reporters that the agency wants a "gasoline source" that is 50% synthetic. He did not elaborate on the source. He added that the (FAA) is targeting 2010 to certify a biofuel blend, and 2013 to certify "full biofuel" to power commercial flight.

The USA (FAA) said it will award a contract this fall to install Runway Safety Light (RSL)s at +20 additional airports across the country over the next three years. (RSL)s, which warn pilots (FC) when it is unsafe to cross or enter a runway, are being tested at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and San Diego (SAN) and will be installed at Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, (DFW), Denver, Detroit, Washington Dulles, Fort Lauderdale, Houston Intercontinental, New York (JFK), New York LaGuardia, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St Paul, Newark, Chicago O'Hare, Orlando International, Philadelphia, Phoenix, (SAN) and Seattle.

The (FAA) also will provide up to $5 million to test in-cockpit displays that increase runway safety. Funding will cover technology, that includes either an aural runway alerting system or an electronic flight bag. The agency said the number of "serious" runway incursions declined more than -55% from Fiscal Year (FY) 2001 through (FY) 2007.

The USA Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that within two years, all new airplanes must include technology that neutralizes flammable gasses from center fuel tanks on passenger airplanes. Those built after 1991 must be retrofitted. The (DOT) said installation would cost $92,000 to $311,000 per airplane and that 2,730 airplanes currently in service in the USA must be retrofitted. "I recognize that this is a challenging time for commercial aviation," Secretary, Mary Peters said. "But there is no doubt that another crash like (TWA ) 800 would pose a far greater challenge." SEE (TWA) ENTRY AS FOLLOWS: JULY 1996: ACCDT: 747-100 (JT9D-7AH) (133-20064, /71 93,000 HOURS, 16,800 CYCLES), BLOWN UP AFTER TAKE OFF FROM NEW YORK (JFK) = ALL 17/212 FATALITIES. FLIGHT 800 TO PARIS.

The USA House of Representatives unanimously passed aviation safety legislation that aims to create more distinct separation between the (FAA) regulators and airlines in response to an alleged "cozy" relationship between (FAA) inspectors and Southwest Airlines (SWA). It includes a two-year "cooling off period" before former (FAA) inspectors or officials overseeing inspectors can work for carriers and requires the (FAA) to rotate principal maintenance inspectors between airline oversight offices at least once every five years. It also calls for establishment of an independent "aviation safety whistleblower investigation office" charged with receiving and investigating safety complaints submitted by (FAA) employees and by airline or Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) company employees. The bill directs the (FAA) to "modify its customer service initiative" to clarify that the agency's customers are the traveling public and not airlines, and that carriers "do not have the right to select the employees of the [FAA], who will inspect their operations." It requires a monthly review of the (FAA)'s Air Transportation Oversight System to ensure that safety concerns are identified and acted upon. The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration. House Transportation Committee Chairman, James Oberstar (Democrat-Minnesota) said the bill's passage is the "first legislative step in reversing the complacency over safety regulation that has set in at the highest levels of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)."

August 2008: The USA (FAA) told Southwest Airlines (SWA) that it is upholding a proposed $10.2 million fine for operating 46 737 Classics for nine days in March 2007, after it had disclosed to the agency that the airplanes were in noncompliance with an airworthiness directive (AD) and is seeking payment by August 29. The penalty would mark the largest ever collected by the (FAA) from an airline for a safety violation. (SWA) wanted the fine to be reduced, because the agency acknowledged that an official at its Dallas area office told (SWA) it could operate the airplanes. The (FAA) subsequently removed the official from his post and has acknowledged errors in its oversight of (SWA). The Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General, Calvin Scovel issued a scathing report earlier this summer, in which he accused the agency of "serious lapses" in its regulatory oversight of the airline. The (FAA) traditionally has lowered its proposed fines after carriers make changes in their safety programs and promise future compliance, as (SWA) has done. (SWA) said it is reviewing the agency's decision to uphold the fine and declined further comment.

Despite criticism of the (FAA)'s performance, (SWA) does not appear to be in a strong position to fight the penalty because Chairman & (CEO), Gary Kelly told Congress it "was clearly a mistake" to operate the airplanes and a "black eye" for (SWA). He insisted, however, that "safety of flight" was not compromised.

August 2008: Air New Zealand (ANZ) and key partners aim to demonstrate commercial aviation's potential to reduce carbon emissions by millions of tonnes annually with a September 12 test flight between Auckland and San Francisco. The 777-200ER operation, called "ASPIRE I," will operate under optimum flight planning conditions through the involvement of Airways New Zealand, the USA (FAA), and Airservices Australia. (ANZ) General Manager Airline Operations, David Morgan said that "by operating under optimum planning conditions, we will be able to demonstrate how many millions of tonnes of fuel and carbon emissions can be saved by airlines globally, if they are permitted to utilize concepts and technologies in flight efficiency, in all phases of commercial flight." Airways New Zealand, the (FAA) and Airservices Australia launched "ASPIRE" last year in an effort to build on the extensive work done by the three authorities on such projects as Future Air Navigation Services (FANS).

The USA Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flight-test program for the Pratt & Whitney (P&W) (JT8D-219) 707 re-engining program is underway at Mojave, California, USA. The engine is being used to re-engine the US Airforce (USF)'s Boeing E-8C JSTARS and NATO (NAT) E-3 AWACS surveillance airplane derivatives of the 707. The (JT98D-219)s will be provided on an operational lease basis by (P&W). The upgrade will provide up to 22% fuel burn reduction and a take-off noise reduction of 40dB over the existing (P&W) (TF33)/(JT3D) engines. The program was developed with the help of Dublin-based 707 operator Omega Air (OMG) and its San Antonio, Texas subsidiary, Seven-Q-Seven. SEE ATTACHED PHOTO AND ARTICLE - - "FAA-707-AUG08."

The USA (FAA) said it received a score of 91 out of 100 in a new (ICAO) audit conducted under the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Program. It said the average score is 56.

September 2008: The USA (FAA) announced that Croatia has been designated Category 2 and "does not comply with international safety standards" set by the (ICAO). The (FAA) assessed Croatia's civil aviation authority in January. It said the Croatian government is "working diligently to correct all areas of concern," without elaborating.

The USA (FAA) said its safety audit of USA airlines' adherence to airworthiness directives (AD)s found an overall compliance rate of 98%. Acting Administrator, Bobby Sturgell said that in the 2% of cases in which problems were discovered, airlines "resolved the issues of noncompliance before the airplanes flew again." He added, "This audit gives us confidence that, overall, the system is safe, and in almost every instance the airlines are complying with our safety directives." But he claimed there is still "work to do," explaining, "We're focusing on the language of our directives to make sure they are clear, concise and unambiguous."

The safety audit was launched in the aftermath of the agency's proposed $10.2 million fine against Southwest Airlines (SWA) for noncompliance with an agency (AD). Disruptions in the spring, when airplanes were grounded to ensure (AD) compliance, likely can be attributed to the audit.

"It's one small step for mankind," said air traffic services provider Airways New Zealand CEO, Ashley Smout following the arrival of Air New Zealand (ANZ) Flight 8, the first "gate-to-gate optimized flight," at San Francisco International (SFO). The 777-200ER flight, dubbed Asia & South Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions (ASPIRE) 1, started in Auckland and consumed -4,600 litres less fuel than normal using a host of strategies to minimize fuel usage. That translated into -12 tons fewer CO2 emissions. (ASPIRE) is a joint initiative among the USA (FAA), Airways NZ, and Airservices Australia.
The 777-200ER was cleared for a "tailored arrival" - - a continuous descent at idle thrust - - at (SFO) and touched down on Runway 28L, 5 minutes ahead of schedule. (SFO) is playing a leading role in tailored arrivals, a joint project among Boeing (TBC), (NASA), the (FAA), and the airport. According to (FAA) Acting Administrator, Bobby Sturgell, "639 tailored arrivals have been undertaken at the airport: 186 complete and 453 partial."

United Airlines (UAL), Japan Airlines (JAL), (ANA), and Qantas (QAN), are using tailored arrivals at (SFO), in addition to (ANZ), which launched the procedures in January and up to the end of May, had saved 69,410 kg of CO2 emissions using the tactic.

(ANZ) Chief Pilot, David Morgan, who was on the (ASPIRE) 1 flight but not part of the cockpit crew, said during flight that the crew had received two updated flight plans using Dynamic Airborne Re-routing, which updates the weather and wind model every 6 hours. (ANZ) employed ground power at Auckland to reduce (APU) usage and was given a priority taxi to the runway. A near-full-power climb was used to reach the initial altitude of 33,000 ft to save fuel and the airplane later was cleared to 39,000 ft in three 2,000-ft "steps." Datalink was used where possible for (ATC) communications, and only the clearance for takeoff was voice. United (UAL) and (QAN) will follow with (ASPIRE) flights over the next few months.

October 2008: The USA Department of Transportation (DOT)'s Office of Inspector General said in a report that then (FAA) needs to upgrade its safety oversight to account for the growing amount of airplane maintenance work outsourced to foreign countries by USA airlines. According to the report, the nine largest USA passenger carriers sent 71% of their heavy airframe checks to outside repair stations last year, up from only 34% in 2003. They outsourced an average of 64% of their maintenance expenses in 2007, compared to 37% in 1996. The (FAA) "still relies too heavily on air carriers' oversight procedures, which are not always sufficient," the report said. "Specifically, we determined that the (FAA) did not have an adequate system for determining how much and where the most critical maintenance occurs . . . the (FAA) could not effectively target its inspection resources to those repair stations providing the highest volume of repairs, which caused deficiencies . . . to go undetected or reoccur and prevented inspectors from obtaining sufficient data to perform comprehensive risk assessments."

Radiant Power, a (HEICO) subsidiary, launched its Sentinel power supply unit featuring 10 minutes of additional power for crash survivable cockpit voice recorders (CVR) as required by the USA (FAA) on airplanes of 10 or more passengers. The unit is compliant with (ARINC) 777 and meets TSO-C155 certification standards.

The USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued an "urgent recommendation" to the (FAA) to require that all Pratt & Whitney (PW2037) engines be removed from service for inspection of the second-stage turbine hubs, when they have accumulated 10,880 flight hours and/or 4,392 cycles, a warning driven by the board's investigation of a Delta Air Lines (DAL) 757-200 un-contained engine failure on an attempted takeoff from Las Vegas on August 6.
According to the (NTSB), the (DAL) 757 equipped with (PW2037) engines experienced "an un-contained failure of the right engine's high pressure turbine second-stage hub . . . According to the pilots (FC), at the start of the takeoff roll, they heard a loud bang and observed that the right engine had lost power." They abandoned the takeoff and returned to the gate. There were no injuries and the engine did not catch fire.

The (NTSB) said its examination of the right engine revealed "a hole in the bottom of the core cowl that was in line with a hole through the engine's high pressure turbine. The inspection also revealed missing lugs and cracks in the turbine hub." The board said it has learned that "at least four other (PW2037) second-stage turbine hubs have had cracks in the blade retaining lugs" and that an American Airlines (AAL) 757's (PW2037) second-stage turbine hub has "cracks in two adjacent blade retaining lugs."

Acting (NTSB) Chairman, Mark Rosenker said, "These discoveries raise serious concerns and warrant immediate action by the (FAA). A string of consecutively fractured blade retaining lugs could result in the simultaneous release of multiple blades, which would exceed the design capacity of the engine's cases and result in an uncontainment. Preventive safety measures must be taken."

Around 300 757s globally are believed to be powered by the engines in question. In the USA, Delta (DAL), Northwest Airlines (NWA), United Airlines (UAL), and (UPS) all operate Pratt-powered 757s, and their airplanes potentially could be subject to inspections, if the (FAA) acts on the (NTSB)'s recommendation.

November 2008: Sensis Corporation said USA (FAA) is discussing a deployment schedule for its runway status lights (RWSL), for which the agency last month awarded it a $131 million, three-year contract for installation at 22 USA airports. (RWSL) is a system of red lights embedded in runways that are triggered automatically by (ASDE-X) surveillance radar to warn pilots (FC) if it is unsafe to cross or enter a runway. "Takeoff hold" lights embedded in runway centerlines also warn pilots (FC) of airplanes already on a runway, if it is unsafe for departure. The systems were trialed at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Las Vegas (LAS), and will be installed at Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago O'Hare, (DFW), Denver, Detroit Metro, Washington Dulles, Fort Lauderdale, Houston Intercontinental, New York (JFK), New York LaGuardia, (LAS), Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St Paul, Newark, Orlando International, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, and Seattle. "The pilot (FC) will be able to look out the window to immediately make a safety determination," Sensis VP & General Manager Air Traffic Management Systems, Tony Lo Brutto said. "This system is using (ASDE-X) to reliably provide information to pilots (FC) without the controller in the loop . . . Part of NextGen [ATC] is to be more cockpit-centric, rather than tower-centric and get pilots (FC) information directly, so they can make a determination quicker." Following the initial three years, the (FAA) has an $84 million, two-year option to extend (RWSL) deployment to other airports. Lo Brutto said that Orlando likely will be the first installation, and that the goal is to install the lighting system at the USA's 35 busiest airports.

The global economic downturn heightens the challenges to shifting to a satellite-based Air Traffic Control (ATC) system, top officials from the USA (FAA) and Eurocontrol said in Washington.
Speaking at the Air Traffic Controllers Association Conference & Exposition, Executive Director, (SESAR) Joint Undertaking, Patrick Ky and (FAA) Air Traffic Organization (COO), Hank Krakowski argued that it is critical to move forward with developing the (SESAR) and NextGen (ATC) systems, even as traffic growth is slowing and near-term funding may be limited, and pushed for greater transatlantic cooperation. "We really need to have a common set of equipment," Ky explained. "It will be difficult because we each tend to focus on our own issues . . . but especially in a time of economic uncertainty, it doesn't make sense to duplicate resources." He said common technological development should expand even further, calling on (ICAO) to play an "important role" to "make sure that what is being agreed to [regarding] (SESAR) and NextGen can be agreed upon globally."

The (FAA) and (EC) officials will meet this week in Washington to look for ways to establish a "more concrete" relationship regarding (ATC) system development, he said. Krakowski said active experimentation with potential technologies is critical, noting, "Until we start playing with this with live airplanes, we really don't know how far we can take this." He added that establishing a funding stream for NextGen is essential. But USA Air Transport Association President & (CEO), Jim May cautioned that "to think that there's going to be a huge contribution to the [FAA] general fund [to fund NextGen initiatives near-term] is a bit of a myth. We've got to find creative, innovative ways to incentivize people to equip [airplanes] and get this process started."

The (FAA) also announced agreements with Honeywell (SGC) and Aviation Communications & Surveillance Systems (ACSS) for $3 million and $6 million, respectively, related to potential NextGen technology. Two Honeywell (SGC) test airplanes and pilots (FC) from JetBlue Airways (JBL) and Alaska Airlines (ASA) will evaluate (ADS-B) equipment at Seattle, that aims "to detect and alert pilots (FC) of potential safety issues." (ACSS) will equip 20 US Airways (AMW)/(USA) A330s with cockpit displays, transponders, antennas, wiring kits, and Class 2 electronic flight bags (EFB) for demonstrations to be conducted at Philadelphia.

The Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) announced its support for new laws to protect against the release or use in judicial proceedings of information, gathered by voluntary self-disclosure reporting programs. Examples of such programs include the Aviation Safety Action Program, the Flight Operational Quality Assurance program, and the Aviation Safety Information Analysis & Sharing system. "We can and must do everything possible to ensure the continued flow of critical safety information that is increasingly coming under assault in courts around the world," (FSF) President & (CEO), William Voss said.

The USA (FAA) issued an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) requiring inspection of all 737NG center wing tank (CWT) fuel pump autoshutoff wiring systems within 48 hours, warning that "incorrect wiring" could lead to "localized overheating of parts inside the fuel pump [that] could produce an ignition source inside the fuel tank." The agency said it received a report of "failure of the left-hand fuel pump of the center wing tank to shut off after being selected 'off' by the flightcrew during flight" on a 737-700 and subsequently the failure was found on two additional 737NGs. According to the (AD), "Information indicates that the autoshutoff system appears to function normally; however, when the flightcrew manually turns off the (CWT) pump switches, that action turns off the right-hand pump, but re-energizes the left-hand pump due to incorrect wiring. The low-pressure lights turn off, incorrectly indicating . . . that power to both pumps has been removed." Consequently, pilots (FC) could be unaware that the left-hand fuel pump is still running, potentially causing overheating and ignition.

The (FAA) is requiring airlines that operate 737NGs, that have the autoshutoff system for center wing fuel pumps, to verify that "the wiring is correctly installed" as well as to conduct a "functional test of the autoshutoff system." Carriers are required to take applicable corrective actions and to report both positive and negative findings to Boeing (TBC). The agency noted that the left-hand fuel pump of the (CWT) "may be deactivated" for up to 10 days if the required tests cannot be conducted within 48 hours. "The inspection report that is required by this (AD) will enable the manufacturer to obtain better insight into the nature, cause and extent of the failure . . . and eventually to develop final action to address the unsafe condition," the (FAA) said, adding that it may issue a further rulemaking as more information becomes available.

The USA (FAA) initiated the rollout of the NextGen satellite-based air traffic control (ATC) system with the commissioning of the installation of 11 (ADS-B) ground stations in Florida. It hopes to have 794 nationwide (ADS-B) ground stations by 2013. "The next generation of air travel has arrived," Acting Administrator, Bobby Sturgell said. "(ADS-B) is the backbone of the future of air traffic control (ATC)." The next "key milestones" for installations - - Juneau, Louisville, the Gulf of Mexico and Philadelphia - - are scheduled for completion by the end of 2010, Sturgell said. President George Bush signed an executive order mandating cooperation across various federal departments to establish NextGen (ATC). President-elect, Barack Obama is expected to name a new Department of Transportation Secretary and (FAA) Administrator, and may alter USA aviation policy regarding (ATC).

December 2008: The USA (FAA) broke ground on a new air traffic control (ATC) system command center in Warrenton, Virginia, that will replace the current facility at nearby Washington Dulles in 2011. Equipping the 63,000-sq-ft facility will cost around $46 million, the agency said.

American Airlines (AAL) suspended its Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP), which allowed pilots (FC) to report safety issues confidentially without fear of punishment from the carrier or the USA (FAA). (AAL) said its pilots (FC) union, the Allied Pilots Association (APA), declined to extend the program. According to the "Associated Press," (APA) believed (AAL) was using the program to discipline pilots (FC). (FAA) Acting Administrator, Bobby Sturgell said the suspension and a similar disbandment of Delta Air Lines (DAL)'s (ASAP) in 2006 are "disheartening," adding, "I encourage [airlines and unions] to separate safety from the labor issues, and put these programs back in place."

South African Airways (SAA) Technical said it was "given an unqualified stamp of approval" by USA (FAA) following a re-audit of its maintenance operations. (SAA)'s (FAA) accreditation was renewed through July 31, 2009.

In a major blow to USA-Israel aeropolitical relations, the (FAA) announced that it was downgrading Israel's aviation safety standard to Category 2 under the agency's International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program. The decision, which will prevent El Al (ELA) from adding new services to the USA, follows up on a July assessment of Israel's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The (FAA) noted that the rating downgrade is not related to security issues and said Israeli authorities are "addressing the items identified, including working with the (FAA) on an aggressive action plan to correct all areas of concern so that their safety oversight system fully complies with standards and practices set by [ICAO]." Israel had maintained a Category 1 rating since November 1995. The (FAA) did not detail the reasons for the downgrade but said a Category 2 rating "may involve a country lacking laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with international standards, or that its civil aviation authority does not meet international standards in one or more areas such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping, or inspection procedures."

Other nations currently rated Category 2 are Bangladesh, Belize, Ivory Coast, Croatia, Demo Republic of Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Kiribati, Montenegro, Nauru, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines, Serbia, Swaziland, Ukraine, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.

The USA Department of Transportation (DOT) said it will "work with carriers" to implement voluntary reductions in scheduled operations at New York LaGuardia (LGA) to 71 per hour from the current 75 during next year's summer schedule. "We want to use every tool at our disposal to help passengers stuck with this grueling congestion," Secretary, Mary Peters said. The (DOT)'s plan to conduct slot auctions was put on hold by a USA Court of Appeals ruling. (LGA)'s on-time arrival rate of 61% in 2007 and 2008 ranked last among the USA's 32 major airports, the (DOT) said, adding that lowering the operations cap to 71 could reduce delays up to 41% and save $178 million per year. But it said that "caps alone are not the long-term solution." If approved, the measure would take effect in April and last through October 24.

Mary Peters called President-elect Barack Obama's nomination of Representative Ray LaHood (Republican-Illinois) as her successor an "excellent choice." She cited LaHood's "broad experience and well-known pragmatism."

Both (AAL) and Southwest Airlines (SWA) have overhauled maintenance procedures, but neither airline appears ready to pay the huge fines federal regulators are seeking. "The instructions are gone over with a fine-tooth comb before the work is even done," says an (AAL) spokesman regarding (FAA) airworthiness directives (AD)s for electrical wiring on MD-80s, while (SWA) has instituted compliance teams and spent nearly $1 million to rewrite maintenance manuals. With all the changes they've made, the airlines believe the (FAA) is overreaching in levying fines that could reach $30 million. "It's not defiant to assert your legal rights and defend yourselves against a penalty that isn't fair or equitable based upon the facts," says an official at (SWA), which has been contesting a $10.2 million fine since last March.

January 2009: The USA Department of Transportation (DOT) issued its final order for alleviating congestion at New York La Guardia (LGA) and said that airlines have until February 2 to identify which flights they will give up voluntarily in order to reduce total scheduled operations from an average of 75 per hour to 71 from May 31 to October 24.

February 2009: The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) asked for the USA (FAA) to develop more stringent flight- and duty-time rules to prevent pilot (FC) fatigue and called on Congress to pass legislation protecting pilots (FC) who report safety concerns. The world's largest pilots (FC)'s union, comprising 53,000 members in North America, outlined its 2009 agenda at a Washington briefing, claiming that the USA regulatory and legal framework regarding pilots (FC) is weak and open to disparate interpretations. It also warned that freighter airplanes are vulnerable to hijackings.

Baltia Air Lines (BLT) announced commencement of the (FAA) Air Carrier Certification process. (BLT) intends to launch New York (JFK) - St Petersburg 747 flights and eventually plans to operate between major USA markets and Eastern Europe.

March 2009: Southwest Airlines (SWA) agreed to pay the USA (FAA) a $7.5 million fine to settle an enforcement action stemming from the carrier's operating 46 737 Classics for nine days in March 2007 after it had disclosed to the agency that the airplanes were in non-compliance with an airworthiness directive (AD). The total amount represents a reduction from a $10.2 million penalty proposed by the (FAA) last year, but the agreement also requires (SWA) to take a number of steps regarding its maintenance program.

According to the (FAA), (SWA) has agreed to increase the number of on-site technical representatives for heavy maintenance vendors from 27 to 35 within 30 days; to allow (FAA) inspectors improved access to maintenance and engineering information within 60 days; to designate a management head of Quality Assurance (QA) "who does not have air carrier certification responsibilities" within 90 days; to review its Required Inspection Item (RII) procedures to ensure compliance with (FAA) rules and "identify more clearly all (RII) items on its maintenance work instructions, engineering authorizations and task cards" within 180 days, and to rewrite all (FAA)-approved manuals within one year. "This agreement furthers aviation safety by requiring important improvements to the airline's safety program," Acting Administrator, Lynne Osmus said. "Some of those safety measures exceed (FAA) regulations."

The USA (FAA) amended an airworthiness directive (AD) pertaining to (Trent 800)-powered 777s to incorporate new procedures recommended by Boeing (TBC) to prevent the fuel feed system icing that is believed to have caused both the un-commanded loss of thrust on a Delta Air Lines (DAL) 777-200ER last November and the dual rollback that led to the January 2008, British Airways (BAB) 777-200ER crash landing at London Heathrow. The new rules revise in-flight procedures "by reducing the step climb from 3 to 2 hours prior to descent and by requiring flight crews (FC) to retard the throttles to minimum idle for 30 seconds at the top of descent." The (FAA) added that the "manufacturer," presumably (TBC) or Rolls-Royce (RRC) or both, "is currently developing a modification that will address" the fuel feed system icing issue.

The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), the union that represents over >11,000 employees at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), including technicians (MT) who install, maintain, repair and certify the radar, navigation and communication systems making up the National Airspace System (NAS), are extremely concerned over the (FAA)'s attempts to make radical changes to its certification policy in order to advance its Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) and modernization efforts. For decades, (FAA) technicians (MT) have routinely evaluated and tested the systems and equipment in the (NAS), regardless of their ownership, to ensure their safe operation - - a successful practice that has been vital in maintaining a safe and efficient air transportation system. However, the (FAA) has made a drastic change to its policy in order to allow systems and services that are not owned by the (FAA) to be deployed without certification. The first system to be impacted by this change is one of the cornerstones of NextGen, the Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B) system. "In essence, the (FAA) is attempting to eliminate inherently governmental functions in order to justify handing over the (NAS) to private contractors who are focused primarily on maximizing profits and meeting the absolute minimum of safety standards," said (PASS) President, Tom Brantley.

The House approved a temporary funding extension for the (FAA) through September 30 and it is expected the Senate will follow.

With all the rhetoric about transforming Air Traffic Control (ATC), equipping airplanes with (ADS-B) technology and reaching long-term goals (the (FAA) says "a large percentage" of NextGen's benefits will be available in 2018 and the system should be fully in place by 2025), what sometimes gets lost is the main purpose for moving to a more modern system: Reducing day-to-day flight delays and cancellations. Some observers are worried that the agency is so focused on long-term NextGen planning that it is paying too little attention to measures it could take in the near term to improve system efficiency.

United Airlines (UAL) (CEO), Glenn Tilton told an industry conference that air traffic control (ATC) delays cost some $40 billion annually, and he praised efforts by some senators to speed the roll-out of a NextGen system, "such that we might move the USA past Mongolia in (ATC) systems rankings." Tilton, who also serves as the current Chairman of the Air Transport Association (ATA), expressed dismay that rapid rail was earmarked for $9 billion in federal support under the USA President's stimulus plan, while NextGen received nothing. "While it makes sense that projects need to be 'shovel-ready' to help these efforts in 2009, they must have to be 'next generation' to sustain future growth in the years ahead," he said.

USA President, Barack Obama confirmed he has chosen Randy Babbitt, 62, to head the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). A 25-year veteran pilot (FC) with Eastern Airlines (EAL), Babbitt formed an aviation consulting group following two terms as President of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). The nomination won immediate praise from both airline and union groups.

April 2009: The USA (FAA) and the (CAAC) (CAC) signed a Memo of Understanding (MOU) "to share best environmental practices at airports in the two countries," according to the (FAA). The agreement was reached at the USA-China Aviation Symposium in Beijing. (FAA) Acting Assistant Administrator International Aviation, Di Reimold said, "I believe that the United States and China, which represent the two largest aviation systems in the world, have an obligation to the global community to lead the way in aviation cooperation . . . In order to sustain growth in our industry, we must find new ways to address greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution."

Also at the conference, (ACI) Europe, (CANSO), Eurocontrol and (IATA) (ITA) announced they will implement continuous descent approaches at up to 100 European airports by 2014. The plan is designed to save airlines 150,000 tonnes of fuel and €100 million/$132.7 million per year while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by -500,000 tonnes and cutting noise around individual airports by -1 to -5 dB.

USA airlines may be able to return to profit this year despite the recession owning to fortuitous decisions made in the first half of last year in response to high oil prices, according to AirTran Airways (CQT) (CFO), Arn

Also speaking at the conference, USA Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood said NextGen is an "essential upgrade" and promised "real progress" in modernizing (ATC) despite the economic downturn. He said that once (FAA) Administrator-nominee Randy Babbitt is confirmed by the USA Senate and takes office, "you are going to see some dramatic improvements in the area of NextGen."

The USA (FAA) said it is withdrawing its proposal to keep information on bird strikes private and will "make its entire bird strike database available on a public website."

May 2009: The USA Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report warning that the USA Air Traffic Control (ATC) system is vulnerable to "cyber attacks" because the (FAA) has not adequately protected the commercial software- and IP-based technologies it increasingly is using to collect and disseminate information to facilitate (ATC) services. "The need to protect (ATC) systems from cyber attacks requires enhanced attention," the report stated. "Web applications used in supporting (ATC) systems operations are not properly secured to prevent attacks or unauthorized access. In addition, the (FAA) has not established adequate intrusion-detection capability to monitor and detect potential cyber security incidents at (ATC) facilities."

The USA Senate confirmed former Air Line Pilots Association President, Randy Babbitt, 62, as the (FAA) Administrator. The confirmation giving Babbitt a five-year term, ends a period that lasted more than >19 months in which the (FAA) was headed by acting administrators.

June 2009: Sensis Corporation's runway status lights (RWSL) were installed at Los Angeles International airport (LAX), which became the third USA airport to add the safety technology. (RWSL) is a system of red lights embedded in runways that are triggered automatically by (ASDE-X), warning pilots (FC) that it is unsafe to cross or enter a runway. Los Angeles World Airports paid $7 million for the system, which the USA (FAA) installed and will maintain. The (FAA) last year signed a $131 million, three-year contract with Sensis for installation at 22 USA airports. The system is already installed at Dallas/Fort Worth and San Diego. (LAX) had (RWSL) installed on eight taxiways and one runway.

July 2009: INCDT: The USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a report stating the Southwest Airlines (SWA) 737-300 that developed a hole in its fuselage in July 2009 while flying from Nashville to Baltimore suffered from "fatigue cracking of the fuselage skin near the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer."

Flight 2294 experienced "rapid decompression while in cruise flight at approximately 35,000 ft when the fuselage crown skin ruptured just forward of the vertical stabilizer," according to the (NTSB). It said magnified inspections of the fracture area revealed "surfaces indicative of fatigue progress." During the July 13 flight, "the fatigue cracking penetrated the fuselage skin and created an approximate 18-inch by 12-inch flap in the skin that depressurized the airplane," the (NTSB) stated.

At the time of the incident, "the specific area of rupture and skin cracking…was not subject to any inspection Airworthiness Directives (AD)s or service bulletins (SB)s" the (NTSB) pointed out. Prompted by the incident, Boeing (TBC) issued a September 2009 service bulletin (SB) calling for repetitive external inspections of the area in question to detect cracks in the fuselage skin of 737 Classics. The (FAA) followed with an (AD) issued January 12 mandating the inspections.

(SWA) said that it is in "full compliance with all new safety regulations developed by Boeing (TBC) and the (FAA) and we thank the (NTSB) for its thorough investigation." It added it has "taken aggressive measures to incorporate additional maintenance inspections in response to what was learned from flight 2294. Immediately after the accident, we increased our ongoing maintenance inspections in the impacted area to include recurring detailed visual inspections and non-destructive tests, with a goal to not only meet but exceed known safety standards."

August 2009: The USA (FAA) announced new standards for transport category airplanes requiring either the automatic activation of ice protection systems or a method informing pilots (FC) that they should be activated. The rule applies to new airplane designs and "significant changes" to current designs but may be expanded to cover existing types, the (FAA) said. New airplanes now must have either an ice detection system that automatically activates or alerts pilots (FC) to activate it, a definition of visual signs of ice buildup combined with an advisory system that guides pilots (FC) to activate an ice protection system, or a way to identify conditions conducive to icing that would prompt pilots to activate the system. "We're adding another level of safety to prevent situations where pilots (FC) are either completely unaware of ice accumulation or don't think it's significant enough to warrant turning on their ice protection equipment," (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt said.

Southwest Airlines (SWA) and USA (FAA) officials met to discuss an agency inspector's recent discovery that (SWA) is operating more than >40 737s with parts produced by an un-certified vendor, a finding that led to the August 22 grounding of the airplanes from early morning to 3 pm. "The (FAA), Boeing (TBC) and (SWA) all agreed [by the afternoon of August 22 that] our aircraft were safe to operate with the parts as they were," a (SWA) spokesperson said. The (FAA) confirmed that use of the parts does not create an immediate safety issue, but added that permission granted to (SWA) to continue operating the 737s is for 10 days only, giving (SWA) a brief reprieve to find a more permanent solution.

The parts in question are exhaust gate assembly hinge fittings, which deflect engine exhaust from wing flaps. A maintenance company that neither the (FAA) nor (SWA) identified, apparently replaced the parts with hinge fittings produced by a vendor that has not gained (FAA) certification for the parts. The issue was first revealed by "The Wall Street Journal."

(SWA)'s latest confrontation with the (FAA) comes fewer than six months after it agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine to settle an enforcement action stemming from operating 46 737 Classics for nine days in March 2007, after it had disclosed to the agency that the airplanes were in noncompliance with an airworthiness directive (AD). Disclosure of that episode led to allegations that (FAA) inspectors in Dallas were too "cozy" with (SWA).


September 2009: Southwest Airlines (SWA) and the USA (FAA) were working toward accommodation on a plan and timetable to replace unapproved exhaust gate assembly hinge fittings on some 49 of the airline's 737s. When the (FAA) became aware of the existence of the unapproved parts, it issued a letter giving (SWA) conditional approval to operate airplanes with the parts for 10 days. An (FAA) spokesperson said that (SWA) has come up with a proposal to address the situation. The (FAA) is trying to "find a way to accommodate Southwest (SWA) and do so in a manner compliant with [FAA] regulations," he said. He added that (FAA) does not view the unapproved parts as "an immediate safety problem."

(SWA) has replaced the parts on 33 airplanes. However, the spokesperson added that the time-frame for repairing the remainder could be more challenging. "Availability of resources would be a consideration," he said. The parts were installed by D-Velco Aviation Services, the (SWA) spokesperson confirmed. They were manufactured by an (FAA)-approved subcontractor named Future Fab that "lacked approval to perform this particular function," he said.

Later, (SWA) received a reprieve from the USA (FAA) and now has until December 24 to replace the unapproved parts on approximately 39 remaining 737-300s/-500s as both the regulator and Boeing (TBC) said the exhaust gate assembly hinge fittings "would not prevent safe operation of the airplanes." The (FAA)'s original 10-day grace period during which (SWA) could operate the airplanes with the unapproved parts expired, but (SWA) uncovered additional affected airplanes in the interim. (SWA) said it already has replaced the parts on 43 planes. The (FAA) said (SWA) may operate the remaining airplanes as long as each is "inspected for wear and tear" every seven days until the replacement is carried out. (SWA) said it does not expect to ground any airplanes, nor does it expect customers to "experience any impact to their flight plans."

Sensis announced that Newark International and Boston Logan International now are operating with its Airport Surface Detection Equipment Model X (ASDE-X). The runway incursion detection and alerting system is operational at 19 USA airports. The (FAA) plans to deploy (ASDE-X) at 35 airports by 2011.

The (FAA) will give USA airlines until early January to replace the Thales (THL) speed probes on A330s and A340s with Goodrich (BFG) probes, according to "Bloomberg News," which cited a Federal Register notice it said is scheduled for publication today. (EASA) already has mandated the replacements be made on A330s/A340s operated by European airlines in the wake of June's Air France (AFA) A330-200 accident. Among USA carriers, Delta Air Lines (DAL) (inherited from Northwest Airlines (NWA)) and US Airways (AMW)/(USA) operate the A330.

(FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt warned that "the national and international trends for fatal accidents and accidents . . . are no longer pointing downward, in fact they may be up slightly," and said the biggest requirement for all of aviation is the need to "step up the professionalism in the workplace." In prepared remarks to the (FAA)'s International Safety Forum in Washington, Babbitt said, "I'm not seeing consistent professionalism," and he contrasted the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) tape from US Airways (AMW)/(USA) Flight 1549 that successfully ditched in the Hudson River last January with that of the Colgan Air DHC-8-Q400 that crashed outside Buffalo a month later: "One [1549] is textbook greatness, the other a complete inattention to basic details."

Citing "a decided shift in the workforce" toward younger, less-experienced captains, Babbitt, who flew commercially for Eastern Airlines (EAL) and has 14,000 hours in his logbook, said, "Experience is a wonderful teacher." He emphasized the importance of mastering fundamentals and not taking shortcuts. "Shortcuts always have a price," and "when you skip the fundamentals, you have the [Comair (COI)] accident in Lexington, where the compass, the signage, the (NOTAM) and a big white X on a runway aren't enough of a deterrent."

To that end, the agency no longer will refer to airlines as its "customers." It is creating an Office of Audit and Evaluation to handle all public and whistleblower complaints, oversee its hotlines and reporting system and interface with other government agencies. It also is "strengthening the procedures used by air carriers, manufacturers, and the (FAA) to ensure that air carriers comply with (AD)s" and has chartered a committee to identify and implement longer-term measures over the next two years.

The Office of Aviation Safety will launch a new Accident Investigation and Prevention Service (AIPS) designed to integrate the work of the Offices of Accident Investigation and Safety Analytical Services (OSAS). "If we are going to continue to improve aviation safety, we have to be able to gather safety information from our industry and use data-driven safety programs to identify and address risks before they lead to accidents," Babbitt said. (OSAS) Director, Jay Pardee will head the (AIPS).

Honeywell (SGC) said Memphis International will become the first USA airport to deploy its Smartpath Precision Landing System early next year following approval by the (FAA). The ground-based augmentation system initially will supplement legacy instrument landing systems and later replace Instrument Landing System (ILS) by augmenting Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment "to provide precision approach guidance to all qualifying runways," the (FAA) said. "It monitors the (GPS) signals to detect errors and augment accuracy by transmitting correction messages to airplanes via local radio broadcast."

The (FAA) said its plan for implementing a satellite-based NextGen Air Traffic Control (ATC) system "identifies (GBAS) as an enabler for descent and approach operations to increase capacity at crowded airports." Honeywell (SGC)'s system was approved for precision approach operations down to 200 ft above the surface. (GBAS) is aimed at supporting zero-visibility operations and enabling (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) operations. Airservices Australia soon is expected to approve a (GBAS) system for use in Sydney, the (FAA) said. "One SmartPath system installed in a typical airport can yield annual maintenance savings of up to $400,000 compared to a single (ILS)," Honeywell VP USA Defense Customers, Vicki Panhuise said. SmartPath already is operating in Bremen and Malaga.

Naverus said that it received a Letter of Qualification from the USA (FAA) "to design and validate Required Navigation Performance (RNP) flight paths for public use in the USA." As Air Transport World (ATW)'s "2009 Aviation Technology Achievement Award" winner, it has designed more than >300 optimized (RNP) procedures around the world. It said that the (FAA) action "completes more than two years of collaboration [with the (FAA)] to develop new rules, processes and oversight mechanisms to certify Naverus development and testing of public procedures in the USA." (CEO), Steve Forte said, "With this Letter of Qualification, Naverus can begin to apply what we've learned in other parts of the world to help accelerate NextGen in the USA. We look forward to working with the (FAA) and operators to implement (RNP) procedures in the USA that reduce airplane fuel burn, CO2 emissions and noise."

Naverus already is working with Southwest Airlines (SWA) and other USA carriers to implement carrier-specific (RNP) procedures in the USA. "The task before us now is to work together to integrate and deploy these advanced navigation procedures into the national airspace," Forte said.

Over the summer, Airservices Australia and Naverus signed a contract to lay the foundation for the world's first nationwide (RNP) network.

Jeppesen said it received (FAA) certification to design, flight validate and maintain public Required Navigation Performance (RNP) Special Aircrew and Aircraft Authorization Required procedures in the USA. As part of the qualification process, Jeppesen designed a public (RNP) procedure to Runway 28 at Savannah/Hilton Head International. The procedure is expected to be operational in the 2009 fourth quarter.

October 2009: The USA (FAA) proposed $9.2 million in civil penalties against US Airways (AMW)/(USA) and United Airlines (UAL) for violations related to federal airworthiness directives (AD)s and/or the airlines' own federally approved maintenance programs. The actions came as the (FAA) appears to be taking a tougher line with carriers regarding violations of regulations and (AD)s. It announced last month measures to improve its response to safety issues, emphasizing that it no longer would refer to airlines as its "customers."

(AMW)/(USA) faces a $5.4 million civil penalty for allegedly operating eight airplanes on 1,647 flights "while not in compliance with certain (AD)s" or its own maintenance program, the agency said. It cited seven instances in which (AMW)/(USA) failed to perform required inspections or maintenance on airplanes it continued to operate. In one instance, the (FAA) claimed an A320 that did not meet the airline's maintenance program requirements for an engine repair continued to be used for 51 flights after the agency brought the problem to the carrier's attention. In another, (AMW)/(USA) operated an EMB-190 on 19 flights "while the airplane was not in compliance with an (AD) that required inspections to prevent a cargo door from opening in flight."

The proposed $3.8 million civil penalty against (UAL) alleges that the airline operated one of its 737s on more than >200 flights after violating its own maintenance procedures on one of the airplane's engines. In April 2008, the 737 returned to Denver after shutting down an engine owing to low oil pressure indications. During a teardown the following week, mechanics (MT)s found that two shop towels had been used to cover openings in the oil sump area "instead of required protective caps" when maintenance was done in December 2007. "We immediately reported the incident and our findings to the (FAA)," a (UAL) spokesperson said "(UAL) has the highest standards for safety and we are fully confident we took appropriate and necessary measures to ensure those standards are met." The two airlines have 30 days to respond to the (FAA).

The USA (FAA) is investigating (AAL)'s maintenance of MD-80s, "The Wall Street Journal" reported, citing preliminary agency findings that "have identified as many as 16 [AA MD-80s] that were operated for months despite allegedly substandard bulkhead repairs." Investigators reportedly are examining claims by pilots (FC) that one or more airplanes were flown at low altitudes without passengers to (AAL)'s Tulsa Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) facility because they were feared to be in too poor a condition to withstand the stress of operating at higher altitudes. The newspaper said the (FAA) confirmed the inquiry and (AAL) confirmed that it received a "letter of investigation" from the (FAA). In April 2008, (AAL) was forced to cancel 3,300 flights over several days while MD-80s were grounded for airworthiness directive (AD) compliance inspections.

Pilots (FC) from European airlines held an "action day" at 22 airports across the continent and various sites in Brussels, including the European Parliament and European Commission (EC), protesting European Union (EU) flight/duty-time rules that they claim are "potentially dangerous." The "Moebus Report," an (EU)-mandated analysis based on extensive scientific research on the effects of fatigue on piloting airplanes, recommended that pilots (FC) should fly no more than 13 hours in daylight and 10 hours at night. But (EU) rules currently allow pilots (FC) to work 14 hours daily and 11 hours 45 minutes nightly. Pilots (FC) are pushing the (EC) to change regulations to match "Moebus" recommendations.

The protests were organized by the European Cockpit Association representing more than >38,200 pilots (FC) from 36 European countries. The European Transport Workers Federation helped in planning the event, which also was backed by the International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations (IFALPA). (IFALPA) argued that "concrete legislative changes must be made to ensure passengers and crews are protected against fatigue-related safety risks and it is essential that this is based upon the scientific research."

British Airline Pilots Association General Secretary, Jim McAuslan drew a contrast between the USA and the (EU): "Shocked by recent accidents due to fatigue, the [FAA] is rushing through measures to tighten, not loosen, pilot (FC) flight time rules. The (EU) on the other hand is going backwards. [Airlines should compete] on the basis of the product, not by working pilots (FC) beyond what is safe."

The (FAA) Oceanic program has retained (SITA) as its Future Air Navigation System (FANS) airplane datalink service provider for a third successive five-year term, it was announced by (SITA) at the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Association’s 54th Annual Conference in Washington. (SITA) provides this (FAA) service through its global (AIRCOM) network of (VHF) stations and satellite operators which is also used for airline operational communications by over >9,000 airplanes.

The (FAA) has made use of the (SITA) (AIRCOM) (FANS) datalink service since 1999 to deliver airspace user benefits in terms of safety and efficiency such as flight path conformance monitoring. The (SITA) service enables the exchange of (FANS) datalink messages between the cockpit and the (FAA)’s Anchorage, Oakland, and New York Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC)'s which cover portions of the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean Flight Information Regions.

Designed in the early 1990s, the (FANS) datalink applications are “Automatic Dependant Surveillance – Contract” (ADS-C) and “Controller Pilot Datalink Communications” (CPDLC). (FANS) avionics are on most Airbus (EDS) and Boeing (TBC) long haul airplanes. They are estimated to be on approximately 75% of flights in the North Atlantic, where (ICAO) plans to mandate airplane carriage of (FANS) avionics from 2015.

(ADS-C) enables the (ARTCC) automation to “contract” suitably equipped airplanes to downlink their position and possibly other information over satellite on a periodic basis; this is typically every 30 minutes, thus enabling a pseudo radar-type service over oceanic and remote airspace. ADS-Broadcast (ADS-B) in which airplanes broadcast their position directly to be picked up by any receivers within line-of-sight, is not usable for oceanic/remote airspace for flight tracking.

(CPDLC) enables pilots (FC) and controllers to exchange pre-defined and, if appropriate, free text messages over the satellite service and thus avoids reliance on the notoriously poor quality of High Frequency voice services that would otherwise traditionally be used.
Since its introduction in 1999, the (FAA)’s confidence in the use of the service has grown to the point that today the (FAA) advises that flights use (ADS-C) for position reporting and (CPDLC) for all other (ATC) communications while in the New York Oceanic area. Similarly, since 2007, the Oakland (ARTCC) has introduced 30 nautical miles lateral and 30 nautical miles longitudinal separation between appropriately equipped and authorized airplanes which include the requirement to be (FANS) equipped.

Since the South Pacific regions’ introduction of (FANS) datalink applications in the mid-1990s, implementation has progressively grown to cover all oceanic/remote regions including Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, the Indian Ocean, the Central and North Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. (SITA) today delivers its (AIRCOM) (FANS) Datalink service to the vast majority of the air navigation service providers around the world that have implemented this technology.

While (FANS-1/A) was intended to operate over satellite services, there are a number of air navigation service providers that either plan to use, or are already making use of, the capability to deliver the service via (VHF) data links in continental airspace. The best example is the Eurocontrol Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre which has been delivering (FANS-1/A) services over (SITA)’s analogue (VHF) service for over 10 years, and more recently over (SITA)’s (VHF) Digital Link (VDL) Mode 2 service.

INCDT: The USA (FAA) revoked the licenses of the two Northwest Airlines (NWA) pilots (FC) who flew 150 miles past their destination on an October 21 flight from San Diego to Minneapolis - St Paul (MSP). Air Traffic Control (ATC) and airline officials were unable to make contact with the pilots (FC) for more than >1 hour and the crew (FC) later told the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that they had been using their laptop computers and were distracted. The (FAA) cited them with a number of violations, including "failing to comply with air traffic control (ATC) instructions and clearances and operating carelessly and recklessly." The revocations are effective immediately but the pilots (FC) have 10 days to appeal to the (NTSB).

"It was effective immediately because of the issues involved," an (FAA) spokesperson said. "We thought the emergency revocation was appropriate. This obviously raises the question of the pilots's (FC)'s professionalism, which is one of the issues the Administrator has talked about over the past few months. We can require pilots (FC) to adhere to rules and standards but it's difficult to enforce professionalism."

The (NTSB) said both pilots (FC) from the (NWA) A320 that "overflew" (MSP) claimed in interviews with board investigators over the weekend that they "lost track of time," while having an extended discussion regarding "the new monthly crew flight scheduling system" implemented as part of the carrier's merger with Delta Air Lines (DAL). Flight 188 en route to (MSP) from San Diego failed to contact (ATC) for 78 minutes as it went well beyond its intended destination. While the airplane eventually landed safely, the incident sparked widespread media speculation about what the pilots (FC) were doing in the cockpit. "Both pilots (FC) stated that they were not fatigued," the (NTSB) said in a statement. "Both said they did not fall asleep or doze during the flight. Both said there was no heated argument."

According to the (NTSB), the pilots (FC) said they become so involved in their discussion regarding the scheduling system that "they did not monitor the airplane or calls from (ATC) even though both stated they heard conversation on the radio. Also, neither pilot (FC) noticed messages that were sent by company dispatchers."

The pilots (FC) revealed that their discussion led both of them to access and use their personal laptop computers. "The use of personal computers on the flight deck is prohibited by company policy," the (NTSB) stated.

The (NTSB) said that "neither pilot (FC) was aware of the airplane's position until a flight attendant (CA) called about 5 minutes before they were scheduled to land" asking for an Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA). The (CA)'s query caused the captain (FC) to look at his primary flight display and he "realized that they had passed (MSP)," the (NTSB) said.

The pilots (FC) then contacted (ATC) and were given a flight track to (MSP). "When asked by (ATC) what the problem was, they replied 'just cockpit distraction' and 'dealing with company issues,'" according to the (NTSB).

Babbitt also addressed other issues, including the need to harmonize the (FAA)'s NextGen (ATC) project with Europe's (SESAR) program. "We have no plans to go it alone," he said. "There will be a heavy emphasis on having a seamless weave between our NextGen and (SESAR)." He added that during recent visits to Japan and China, he saw evidence of those countries also moving toward (ATC) modernization.

He also appeared open to a global carbon dioxide tax on passengers that is opposed widely by the airline industry, saying, "the idea is wholesome." But he noted that enacting it would be complicated. "The primary issue is who would actually be the taxing authority," he said.

Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) of Virginia said it was awarded a $106 million contract by the USA (FAA) "to provide program management and technical services" in support of the NextGen transition. (SAIC) said its involvement will include work on Safety management, aeronautical communications and weather programs.

Both said the (FAA) needs to move away from developing Required Navigation Performance (RNP) procedures for airports that merely "overlay existing routes" and toward implementing procedures that allow more direct flight paths that will increase efficiency and lower fuel burn and carbon dioxide emissions. Dillingham said (ATC) system stakeholders have told the General Accounting Office (GAO) "that the process of approving and deploying (RNP) navigation procedures remains extremely slow and that the (FAA)'s review and approval of a given original (RNP) design often takes years."

Both also said that the (FAA) needs to determine how and when to equip airplanes with ADS-B-capable devices that would allow airlines to take full advantage of a new (ATC) system. Scovel said the (FAA) and airlines "need to establish realistic transition benchmarks." Dillingham pointed to "risks" faced by carriers that are "early investors" in new equipment: "Potential changes in the proposed standards or requirements for the technology, later reductions in the price of technologies and installations, or the risk that the (FAA) may not implement the requisite ground infrastructure and procedures to provide operators with benefits that would justify their costs to equip."

The USA (FAA) said it has begun transitioning (NOTAM)s to a digital system, which it said "should reduce human error, allow more timely and accurate distribution of information, standardize content, policy and procedures and balance diverse customer needs." Digital distribution tests to six (ATC) facilities will begin in January.

November 2009: The USA (FAA)'s computer system that processes flight plans failed for about 4 hours, leading to numerous flight delays and cancellations throughout the country, the second such glitch in the past 15 months. In August 2008, its computer system in Atlanta that processes flight plans, went down for several hours. The malfunction was at the (FAA)'s other center that electronically processes flight plans in Salt Lake City. The (FAA) said that "a router problem" occurred at around 5 am Eastern Standard Time (EST), rendering the flight plan processing system ineffective and forcing flight plans to be handled manually. The "software configuration problem" in Salt Lake City also affected flight plan processing at the Atlanta center, the (FAA) said.

Airlines were forced to use fax machines to send in flight plans that then had to be entered manually by controllers. The problem was fixed by 9 am, the (FAA) said. Dozens of flights were cancelled, but the most common consequence was delays, as the slower flight plan processing was occurring. Delta Air Lines (DAL) reported that nearly half of its flights departed late during the period. Delays of 30 minutes to 1 hour at major airports were reported by a number of airlines, with delays lingering throughout the late morning and early afternoon at several airports.

"Air traffic control (ATC) radar and communication with airplanes were not affected during this time and critical safety systems remained up and running," the (FAA) said in a statement. "There is no indication the outage occurred as a result of a cyber attack." It added that (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt "was meeting with representatives from Harris Corporation, the company that manages the [computer system], to discuss system corrections to prevent similar outages in the future."

December 2009: USA (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt said regulators, airports and airlines have "picked off all the low-hanging fruit there is to pick" to improve runway safety and now must focus on gathering "more detailed information" that can be analyzed to preemptively identify airfield risks. Speaking to the (FAA) International Runway Safety Summit in Washington, he touted the -50% year-over-year reduction in "serious" runway incursions to 12 at USA airports during the government's fiscal year ended September 30, including only two involving airlines, which he called "a staggering achievement." To reduce incursions even further, he asserted that "we've got to shift away from the forensic investigation of what happened and instead start chipping away at the precursors. When the numerator is 12 and the denominator is 50 million [annual operations], frankly there's no other way we can get there."

To that end, the (FAA) has established a "Safety Management Systems" rulemaking process and is considering issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in late 2010 that would require USA airports to develop Short Message System (SMS) programs to analyze operational data proactively and identify safety risks. It also has initiated an (SMS) Council within the agency to develop processes for "thinking ahead" and "making sure [safety] decisions are based on knowledge, data and prevention," according to Director Office of Safety and Standards, Michael O'Donnell, who also spoke at the conference.

Babbitt credited technology such as (ASDE-X), which is in place at 23 USA airports and will be installed at 35 by 2011, for improving runway safety. But as more technology is put in place, ensuring that pilots (FC) stay focused on "the fundamentals" is critical, he said. "My instincts tell me that the place all of this will head is a tricky area: Human factors . . . The human factor is going to loom large in the future. . .[With a growing amount of safety-related technology in cockpits and on the ground], we need to get pilots to stop troubleshooting warning systems and make sure they continue to fly the airplanes."

January 2010: The USA (FAA) is ordering airlines to inspect 737 Classics' fuselages every 500 cycles to prevent further occurrences of an incident that took place last summer involving a Southwest Airlines (SWA) 737-300 that developed a hole in its fuselage while flying from Nashville to Baltimore, according to "The Dallas Morning News." The (FAA)'s notice requires carriers operating 737 Classics to conduct an inspection within the next five weeks. Inspections then must occur at least once every 500 cycles. If any cracks are found, airlines must install reinforcing metal.

Delta Air Lines (DAL) and subsidiary, Northwest Airlines (NWA) were granted a single air operating certificate (AOC) by the USA (FAA) on December 31, an expected move that clears the way for full integration to be completed by late first quarter/early second quarter.

The USA (FAA) said it has heightened its oversight of American Airlines (AAL) following three difficult landings in December. In the most serious of those, a 737-800 was destroyed when it overran the runway at Kingston (Jamaica) on December 22 and skidded onto a nearby beach. There were no serious injuries in that accident. The (FAA) said (AAL) had two other poor landings last month involving MD-80 wingtips hitting the runway in Charlotte and Austin. It said that in addition to stepping up oversight, it will examine the incidents to determine if there could be a link. (AAL) said it is cooperating with the (FAA).

The USA (FAA) announced that air traffic controllers in Houston have started using (ADS-B) for flights over the Gulf of Mexico. Administrator, Randy Babbit called it a "significant, early step toward NextGen" for an area that has lacked radar coverage. Controllers previously "had to rely on an airplane's estimated or reported, not actual, position," the (FAA) said. Commercial airplanes at high altitude were kept as much as 120 miles apart to ensure safety. (ADS-B) will allow the separation to be reduced to 5 nm. (ADS-B) also is in use in Louisville in partnership with (UPS). Philadelphia will begin using (ADS-B) next month and Juneau will come online in April.

The USA (FAA) sent a portable temporary air traffic control (ATC) tower to Haiti to assist with airplane operations at the heavily damaged Port-au-Prince International airport. The tower is 44 ft long, 13 ft high and 8 ft wide, weighs about 25,000 lbs and was transported aboard a chartered cargo airplane. Assembling the tower will take around 48 hours, according to the (FAA). Controllers providing terminal (ATC) services have worked outside at a folding table using military radios to handle about 160 flights per day, the (FAA) said. In addition to air traffic employees, the agency "has an airports division team on the ground to inspect and evaluate the physical condition of the runway as it handles a high volume of heavy military transport and cargo airplanes."

February 2010: A Singapore Airlines (SIA) 747-400 completed the fifth Asia Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions (ASPIRE) demonstration flight and the first multi-sector flight in the program, flying a Los Angeles - Tokyo Narita - Singapore (SIN) routing and achieving about a -5% to -6% fuel/carbon dioxide emissions savings compared to a usual (SIA) flight on the route.

(SIA) said total fuel savings were calculated at 10,868 kg while CO2 reduction was -33,769 kg, both exceeding the goals for the flight. Flight time was lowered by about 30 minutes. The flight was achieved through a collaboration among (SIA), the USA (FAA), the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, which Monday became the fifth air services provider to enlist as an (ASPIRE) signatory.

(SIA) Senior VP Flight Operations, Gerard Yeap, briefing reporters at the Singapore Air Show, explained that the 747-400 operated a "red carpet flight" in which every conceivable measure was taken to allow it to fly as efficiently as possible. "Look at it as an aspiration of what we'd like to achieve in a green flight," he said. "It shows it can be done."

Ground electrical supply was used instead of the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) to power the airplane at all three airports. The amount of fuel on board "was fine-tuned half-an-hour before flight, ensuring a better match with the actual airplane takeoff weight," (SIA) said. The 747-400 was allowed to make an "unrestricted climb" following takeoff and used a continuous descent approach at (SIN). (SIA) said that "the bulk of the fuel savings . . . came from using a User Preferred Route (UPR) generated from the flight planning system Lido/Flight from Lufthansa (DLH) Systems." Yeap explained, "Based on the latest weather at hand, the (UPR) is the most efficient route for the airplane to fly compared to an existing predetermined route."

The 747-400 used the FreeFlight module of the Lido/Flight solution, which Lufthansa (DLH) Systems noted "opens up almost unlimited options to calculate the most-efficient routing," adding that the system uses a "highly complex procedure of calculating the most efficient trajectory in terms of distance, flight altitude, wind direction and speed."

Yeap said FreeFlight meant the airplane was "not bound by traditional airways . . .[nor] ground-based routes." He said he hoped the success of the (ASPIRE) flights will encourage governments, airports and air service providers to invest in modernizing infrastructure. "Many airports in use today were designed in the days of the 707 and meanwhile airplane technology has advanced by leaps and bounds," he said. "There are regions in the world where, for one 1-hour flight, you have to do 10 heading changes." Relying more on satellite-based navigation and using the procedures employed in the (ASPIRE) flights "easily" could increase system efficiency significantly, he declared.

March 2010: (AAL) faces growing problems on two fronts as the USA (FAA) announced it is seeking to collect civil penalties totaling $787,500 from (AAL) for maintenance violations and its ground workers became the second labor group to ask the National Mediation Board for a release from talks that could lead to a work action. The (FAA)'s proposed fine follows a February Department of Transportation Inspector General report that stated (AAL) "was not following procedures for required maintenance inspections" and criticized the (FAA) for not holding (AAL) to account for its "longstanding failure to comply with required maintenance inspection procedures." (AAL) regional subsidiary, American Eagle Airlines currently is facing proposed fines totaling $5.4 million for alleged safety violations.

The (FAA) said that in April 2008 (AAL) mechanics (MT) discovered problems with one of two Central Air Data Computers on an MD-82 but "instead of replacing the computer, mechanics (MT) improperly deferred this maintenance . . . [and the] airline subsequently flew the plane on 10 passenger flights before the computer was replaced. During this time, flight crews (FC) were led to believe that both computers were working properly." The (FAA) is proposing a penalty of $625,000 for this alleged violation.

It additionally charged that in March 2008 (AAL) "failed to correctly follow an Airworthiness Directive (AD) involving the inspection of rudder components on certain 757 airplanes." According to the (FAA), the airline "was advised of the situation . . . [and] said it would cease flying the planes until they were repaired . . . [but] during the following two days, the airline flew two of the planes on a total of three passenger flights." The proposed fine is $75,000 for this alleged violation.

The (FAA) further alleged that in May 2009, (AAL) "mechanics (MT) returned an MD-82 airplane to service even though several steps of a scheduled "B" check maintenance visit had not been checked off as completed . . . [A subsequent] (FAA) inspection of the airplane revealed several discrepancies in the tail section, including loose screws, a missing nut plate and a right hand elevator torque tube binding making noise." It proposed an $87,500 penalty for that alleged violation.

The (FAA) issued an emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) calling for operators of 737-600s, 737-700s, 737-800s, 737-900s and 737-900ERs to inspect elevator tab control mechanisms following "severe elevator vibration" on a Ryanair (RYR) 737-800 that made an emergency landing in Brussels this month.

The (FAA) attributed the vibration to "failure of the aft attach lugs on the left elevator tab control mechanism" and said carriers need "to detect and correct" any loose bearings in the mechanisms. "Severe vibration in this attach point is suspected of allowing rapid wear of the joint and resulted in failure of the attach lugs" on the (RYR) 737-800, it said. "This condition, if not corrected, could result in a loss of airplane control and structural integrity."

The (FAA) said inspections must occur within 12 to 30 days depending on the timing of an airplane's entry into service. It added that a final rulemaking on the issue may be forthcoming once more information is gathered.

The (FAA) announced a proposed $1.5 million penalty against the former Northwest Airlines (NWA) for operating 32 757s without required windshield wiring inspections. (NWA) was acquired by Delta Air Lines (DAL) in late 2008 and (DAL)/(NWA) began flying on a single Air Operators Certificate (AOC) in December, but the flights in question took place between December 1, 2005, and May 27, 2008. The (FAA) said that a 1990 Airworthiness Directive (AD) "required inspections for the presence of undersized wires in the heating system for both the captain (FC)'s and first officer (FC)'s windows, and replacement if needed," but (NWA) omitted the inspection of the copilot (FC)'s window from maintenance instructions written to mechanics (MT) in April 1990. As a result, there were more than >90,000 flights in violation of the (AD). In May 2008, (NWA) revised the instructions but delayed the work further until the next overnight layover. "When an air carrier realizes that an Airworthiness Directive (AD) is not being followed, the problem must be corrected immediately. Safety cannot wait for the next scheduled maintenance," (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt said.

April 2010: The Pan Am International Flight Academy of Miami was awarded a three-year, $3.5 million contract from the (FAA) to provide pilot (FCC) training for (FAA) inspectors on A300, 737-200, 737-300, 747-400, 767, 777, CRJ-100/200, CRJ-700, DC-8, and EMB-170/190 simulators.

May 2010: The USA (FAA) announced one of its largest-ever contract awards, earmarking up to $4.4 billion for early-stage implementation of the NextGen air traffic control (ATC) system. The 10-year contracts with Boeing (TBC), General Dynamics Corporation and (ITT) Corporation include large-scale demonstration projects to show how Ground Proximity System (GPS) navigation will be integrated with the current radar-based system, plus advanced weather imaging technology for pilots (FC) and controllers.

The USA (FAA) announced that a ground-based Wide-Area Augmentation System is now being used in Juneau, enabling controllers to track airplanes along the approach into the airport where radar coverage isn't possible owing to surrounding mountains. With Wide Area Multilateration (WAM), controllers safely can reduce separation between arriving airplanes to 5 nm. Currently, only one airplane at a time can fly down the terrain-challenged flight path into Juneau. The system comprises a network of small sensors that send out signals that are received and sent back by airplane transponders. It triangulates the returning signals to determine the precise location of each airplane. Controllers are able to see those airplanes on their screens as if they were radar targets. When satellite-based (ADS-B) is deployed nationwide, expected in 2013, (WAM) will become a backup system at Juneau. A (WAM) system also is operating in Colorado.

The USA (FAA) proposed a $325,000 civil penalty against Continental Airlines (CAL) for operating a 737 on "at least" 12 commercial flights before an abnormal gear indication was addressed by mechanics (MT). The (FAA) said that on December 20, 2008, the crew of a 737 en route from Houston to Los Angeles elected to continue their flight after noticing a warning light on the right main landing gear indicator after the gear retracted, and diverted to Phoenix only once it became apparent the airplane was burning "an excessive amount of fuel." Upon landing, (CAL) maintenance (MT) workers inspected the landing gear but failed to record the incident and the airplane allegedly flew a dozen passenger flights before being inspected by mechanics (MT).

"Air carriers cannot let maintenance issues lapse," (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt said. "When a problem is discovered, it needs to be corrected immediately." (CAL) has 30 days to respond to the (FAA). (CAL) was fined earlier by the USA Department of Transportation for filing incomplete disability complaints.

The USA (FAA) proposed a $1.55 million civil penalty against FedEx (FED) "for allegedly failing to revise its Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program in accordance with (FAA) regulations," the (FAA) stated. The cargo operator allegedly failed to ensure that it "used approved standards, inspections and time limitations for 14 cargo Unit Load Devices used on the company's airplanes beginning in early 2008," the (FAA) said. "The civil penalty addresses 124 flights from March 20 to April 17, 2008." (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt said, "When it comes to maintenance, it's unacceptable for any air carrier not to meet the (FAA)'s standards." FedEx (FED) has 30 days to respond.

The FAA announced the final rule describing the performance requirements for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out, a foundation stone of NextGen, and setting a 2020 deadline for airplanes to be equipped when operating in USA-controlled airspace.

"Today is really a huge day for all of us in aviation. NextGen is aviation's future and today's announcement is a step across the threshold," (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt said in a conference call with reporters, adding, "The final rule gives the green light to manufacturers to actually start building precision avionics."

Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, who also spoke to reporters, said, "The bottom line is NextGen is here. It's working and it will make our airplanes safer, our tarmacs less congested, our carbon footprint smaller."

The airline industry, however, expressed reservations about the equipage cost to carriers, which the final rule puts at $2.5 to $6.2 billion. In a statement, Air Transport Association (ATA) President, James May said the (ATA) is reviewing the rule but cautioned that "any rule requiring this type of equipage and expense must be based on a solid business case in which the true benefits and real costs are fully understood and justified."

Speaking to reporters, Babbitt said he believes airlines "do see the business case" for (ADS-B) but acknowledged that cost is an issue for them. "We can appreciate the difficult economic times the airlines have been through, and capital expenditures are going to be difficult for them. I think that is at the core of their concern. I think they appreciate full well the advantages that will come from having the nation equipped with all of this gear."

LaHood, meanwhile, held out the possibility that carriers might receive some federal help. "We've had several meetings with folks at the White House about this because we know there are some pretty large costs that have to be incurred and I think we have the White House's attention on this to where there could be some opportunities for us to be helpful to them along the way," he said.

Babbitt also said that airlines will be operationally incentivized to equip ahead of the 2020 deadline through a "best-equipped, best-served" approach to air traffic management. "We are developing procedures that those that have the equipment will be able to take advantage of," he said, mentioning in particular (RNAV) arrivals and departures and optimized descent profiles, such as the one in use by (UPS) at Louisville.

June 2010: USA (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt announced at Air Transport World (ATW)'s "Eco-Aviation" Conference that the (FAA) has awarded $125 million to five companies to "develop and demonstrate technologies that will reduce commercial jet fuel consumption, emissions and noise."

The five-year contracts are part of the (FAA)'s Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise program, or (CLEEN). The five companies:- Boeing (TBC), GE Aviation (GEC), Honeywell (SGC), Pratt & Whitney (PWC), and Rolls-Royce-North America (RRC), each will match the agency's investment dollar-for-dollar, bringing the total (CLEEN) investment to $250 million.

Delivering the keynote luncheon address at the conference in Washington, Babbitt acknowledged that commercial aviation has made "phenomenal progress" over the last decade in becoming more environmentally efficient but said the industry must "do more" to address "a national crisis with our environment that extends well beyond aviation. The (FAA) is going to push as hard as humanly possible to improve aviation's environmental efficiency."

He said technology developed through (CLEEN) "could be introduced into the commercial airplane fleet beginning in 2015. The goals of these research and demonstration efforts include: A reduction in fuel burn by -33%, a reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions by -60% and a reduction in cumulative airplane noise levels by 32 decibels. As early as 2015, you and I could be flying on quieter, cleaner, more efficient airplanes that are operating on alternative fuel."

Boeing (TBC) said it will receive $25 million from the (FAA) and contribute another $25 million to "conduct flight demonstrations of emergent airframe and engine technologies that have the potential of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and community noise." The technologies include adaptive wing trailing edges and ceramic matrix composite acoustic engine nozzles, (TBC) said, adding that they will be flight tested aboard a 737 in 2012 and "a yet-to-be-determined twin-aisle airplane in 2013."

(GEC) said the combined (CLEEN) investment of itself and the (FAA) will be "up to $66 million." (GEC) added that the contract "will help fund…[development of the] TAPS II combustor, open rotor and Flight Management System-Air Traffic Management (FMS-ATM) technologies." (GEC) will work with Lockheed Martin, AirDat and Alaska Airlines (ASA) to develop and demonstrate the technologies.

Honeywell (SGC) said it will use the contract money "to develop mature technology for fuel burn reduction and test aviation biofuels for use in Honeywell (SGC) turbine engines." It will use its (TECH7000) turbofan test engine as the basis for its research and work in conjunction with its (UOP) business.

Pratt & Whitney (PWC) said it will develop and demonstrate "low noise, highly efficient fans" and "low-emissions combustors" as part of the (CLEEN) program.

Babbitt said the "(CLEEN) consortium of companies" will meet twice annually to discuss progress on technological development. Asked which types of alternative fuels the (FAA) is interested in seeing developed, he said, "Everything is on the table."

The USA (FAA) awarded Boeing (TBC) a $1.7 billion research and development support contract associated with the (FAA)'s planned transition from ground-based radar to a satellite-based NextGen Air Traffic Control (ATC) system. The contract has a five-year base with additional options for another five years. Under terms of the deal, Boeing (TBC) will "perform work that will demonstrate NextGen procedures in real time on a large scale within the current air traffic (ATC) system," the company said in a statement.

Focus areas include air traffic (ATC) management modeling and simulation and the full integration of ground and airborne technologies and operations across all vehicle types, including commercial and military airplanes, general aviation, unmanned aerial systems and rotor craft. "By applying fully integrated solutions - - from concept development to full-scale flight demonstrations - - our team is ready to assist the government in developing and testing advanced air traffic management concepts that will improve safety, reliability and efficiency," Boeing VP Defense & Government Services, Greg Deiter said.

The European Commission (EC) and the USA (FAA) signed a memorandum of cooperation regarding "civil aviation research and development" with a specific emphasis on jointly pursuing modernized Air Traffic Control (ATC) systems.

The first technical annex of the memorandum is "dedicated to (SESAR)-NextGen cooperation," according to the (EC), which called it "a major achievement" that will ensure "effective interoperability" between the satellite-based (ATC) systems that the USA and the European Union (EU) previously had been pursuing on separate tracks.

The (EC) said the sides have agreed "to identify the opportunities" where each other's industry stakeholders "can contribute to programs of equivalent research and development activities." The agreement further commits the (EU) and the USA to "coordinate their technical efforts in support of global standardization" of (ATC) systems through the (ICAO).

"Interoperability between (SESAR) and NextGen is in fact essential for airspace users, airlines in particular, as it will enable airplanes to fly in the USA and in the (EU) airspaces with the same equipment to navigate, communicate and report its position, avoiding additional costs and weights," the (EC) stated.

(FAA) COO, Hank Krakowski said, "Harmonization is the key to the future of air travel over the North Atlantic. This agreement allows us to work together to give the airlines a seamless transition between our airspaces."

The (FAA) added that "the goal of the agreement is to provide airplanes flying over the North Atlantic with consistent service in terms of avionics, communication protocols and procedures, and operational methods under NextGen and its European counterpart . . . (SESAR)."

July 2010: The (FAA) issued an airworthiness directive (AD) to require USA operators of 757, 767 and 777 airplanes to either inspect or replace forward-facing flight deck windows. It said the (AD) "is aimed at preventing smoke, fire or cracking of the inner layer of the forward viewing window caused by loose electrical connections that are used to heat the window to prevent ice." According to the (FAA), 11 incidents of fire or flames have been reported over the past two decades, the most recent of which occurred on May 16 to a United Airlines (UAL) 757 that had to make an emergency landing at Washington Dulles.

Operators have two options: Begin inspections within 500 flight hours and then continue at intervals that are specific for each of two window designs, or install a new, redesigned window. Inspections take about an hour. The (FAA) said it plans to issue a similar (AD) covering 747 windows, although no fire events have occurred on that type, because the windows are similar. The (AD) affects 1,212 USA airplanes out of a world fleet of 2,619. Total cost of inspections was put at $103,020 for USA operators.

The USA (FAA) awarded Metron Aviation a $1.15 billion, 10-year NextGen contract, the largest single award to a small business in (FAA) history. The System Engineering 2020 (SE-2020) Research & Mission Analysis Set-Aside is (FAA)'s strategic program for implementing the NextGen satellite-based Ait Traffic Control (ATC) system. "This program allows us to build upon our heritage of partnering with the (FAA) to pioneer innovative and transformational capabilities that help open America's skies," said CEO, Dave Ellison.

The USA (FAA) proposed a fine against Spirit Airlines (SPR) of $50,000 for "alleged violation of the Federal Aviation Regulations or Department of Transportation Hazardous Materials Regulations," the (FAA) said. Spirit (SPR) was reprimanded for failing to replace a faulty elevator aileron computer (ELAC) after an A321 experienced an un-commanded pitch-down on August 21, 2009. (SPR) operated the airplane on a San Juan - Fort Lauderdale passenger flight the next day "although (SPR)’s maintenance program required replacement of the (ELAC) computer," the (FAA) said, noting the airplane experienced another un-commanded pitch-down.

The USA (FAA) proposed a $230,000 penalty against Continental Airlines (CAL) for allegedly operating a 767 not in compliance with (FAA) regulations on 22 flights. The agency charged that (CAL) failed to install a required axle washer after replacing the nose landing gear wheel and tire assembly on August 12, 2008, "despite warnings in the maintenance manual and on the tire assembly itself." It added, "The warning said failing to install the washer could lead to failure of the wheel bearing." The (FAA) said it identified three identical earlier violations when it discovered the discrepancy during a records check. (CAL) has 30 days to respond.

The (FAA) on July 30 determined that Mexico is not in compliance with (ICAO) safety standards, causing the agency to downgrade the nation to a Category 2 rating. The rating change means Mexican carriers
cannot establish new service, although existing flights will not be affected. The downgrade follows an assessment of Mexico’s civil
aviation authorities. “While Mexico has been responsive to the (FAA)’s findings and has made significant improvements in recent months, it was unable to fully comply with all of the international safety standards,” the (FAA) says. “However, under the leadership of Director General, Hector Gonzalez Weeks, Mexico continues to make progress.”

The (FAA) says it will work with the Mexican government and provide technical assistance to help restore its Category 1 rating. According to the (FAA), a Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with international standards, or that its civil aviation authority is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping or inspection procedures.

August 2010: The USA (FAA) proposed its highest-ever civil penalty, a $24.2 million fine against American Airlines (AAL) for allegedly "failing to correctly follow" a 2006 Airworthiness Directive (AD) regarding MD-80 maintenance.

The (FAA) said in a statement that 286 (AAL) MD-80s were operated on a combined 14,278 passenger flights in 2008, while not in compliance with federal regulations. The (FAA) alleged (AAL) "did not follow steps outlined in [the AD] requiring operators to inspect wire bundles located in the wheel wells of MD-80 airplanes." The (AD) mandated inspections to look for "chafing or signs of arcing of the wire bundle for the auxiliary hydraulic pump. It also required operators to perform corrective actions."

The (FAA) said the "shorting of wires or arcing at the auxiliary hydraulic pump…could result in loss of auxiliary hydraulic power or a fire in the wheel well of the airplane. The Airworthiness Directive (AD) also sought to reduce the potential of an ignition source adjacent to the fuel tanks, which in combination with the flammable vapors could result in a fuel tank explosion."

The (FAA) said (AAL)'s alleged violation of the (AD) was first detected on two airplanes during an inspection on March 25, 2008. The airline was informed of the discrepancy, "prompting a series of re-inspections and additional maintenance work that occurred during the following two weeks," the (FAA) said. It added that it identified seven more MD-80s that were not in compliance with the (AD) at the carrier's Tulsa maintenance base on March 26 and another eight at Dallas/Fort Worth International on April 7. It eventually concluded that 286 were not in compliance.

According to its website, (AAL) currently operates 247s MD-80s out of a fleet of 619 airplanes. The airline emphasized in an e-mailed statement that "there was never a safety of flight issue surrounding these circumstances…These events happened more than two years ago, and we believe this action [by FAA] is unwarranted." The carrier said it plans to "challenge any proposed civil penalty. We are confident we have a strong case and the facts will bear this out."

The (FAA) acknowledged that (AAL) "ultimately completed the work required" following the temporary grounding of its MD-80 fleet in March and April 2008, which led to the cancellation of around 3,300 flights.

The next highest civil penalty proposed by the (FAA) was a $10.2 million fine against Southwest Airlines (swa) that was later reduced to $7.5 million. (AAL) has 30 days to respond.

September 2010: United Airlines (UAL) and Continental Airlines (CAL) have agreed on a path to obtain a single operating certificate (SOC) from the (FAA) that will see the merged carriers retain the "legacy Continental (CAL) operating certificate and the legacy United (UAL) repair station certificate," according to (UAL) VP Corporate Safety, Security, Quality & Environment, Michael Quiello.

The information was contained in a communication from Quiello to (UAL) employees. Achieving an (SOC) "is a long-term process that will follow a series of steps in a transition plan that we will submit to the (FAA) later this month," he said. It will "be the third and final stage in the merger process," following Closing Day, when the merger is legally completed, and Customer Day One, set for sometime next spring, when the two airlines' customer service systems are expected to be able to handle passengers from either airline. It is anticipated the (SOC) will take at least a year to accomplish from the date of the closing of the merger, expected by October 1.

Although both operating certificates contain "unique" advantages, the (CAL) certificate was selected "because of its enhanced technology authorizations and close conformity to standard (FAA) language as well as other regulatory and commercial considerations," Quiello stated. (UAL)'s maintenance certificate was selected because it "enables increased maintenance capabilities, enhanced repair station authorizations and greater maintenance volume."

As part of the merger process, the Continental Micronesia (MCR) operation will be combined with Continental (CAL)'s ahead of the (UAL) - (CAL) (SOC) transition. At present, Continental Micronesia (MCR) has its own air operating certificate (AOC).

A new (FAA) proposal to combat pilot fatigue would require pilots (FC) to have nine hours of rest—not including commuting time—between duty periods, (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt and USA Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood announced September 10.
Babbitt acknowledged that the changes in duty hours could affect pilot (fc) staffing, but he noted that airlines will be given “considerable flexibility in scheduling.” The (FAA) estimates
the rule could cost $803.5 million over the next 10 years. There was no mention of extending the rules to flight attendants (CA). The rule changes were prompted by last year’s crash of a Colgan Air flight outside of Buffalo, New York. These are the first changes to the rule since 1985, and they capitalize on improvements that have been made since then in fatigue and sleep research, Babbitt says. The rule limits duty hours to between nine and 13 hours, depending on
segment length, time of day and time zones. The current rule limits duty hours to 16 hours in a 24-hour period.

The proposed rule also would require 30 consecutive hours free from duty in any 7-day period and sets 28-day and yearly limits on the number of duty hours. Additionally, pilots (FC) have the right to turn down an assignment without repercussions, Babbitt said. The rule would require airlines — and pilots (FC) — to factor commuting time into duty-hour calculations. In other words, if a pilot (FC)’s commute is two hours, that time will not be factored into the nine-hour mandated rest period. The rest period begins when the pilot (FC) checks into a hotel or returns home, not when the airplane is at the gate. The airline industry was heavily involved in creating the rule, Babbitt said. The Air Transport Association hailed the proposal, noting it "has long been on record in support of
pilot (FC)-rest and fatigue-management rules that are science-based, effective and crafted to truly improve safety."

The USA (FAA) proposed a $4.9 million civil penalty against Evergreen International Airlines (EVR) for "allegedly using pilots (FC) on 232 revenue flights who had not been trained in accordance with an (FAA)-approved training program." (EVR) operated the improper flights between February 19 and July 9, 2009 "on airplanes equipped with a new flight management system (FMS) that was different enough from the prior system that it required a specific training program for pilots (FC), who were flying the airplanes," the (FAA) said in a statement. "The (FAA) alleges (EVR) did not complete its (FAA)-approved training for pilots (FC) before assigning them to fly revenue trips using the new (FMS)."

The (FAA) said that while (EVR) line pilots (FC) received ground training and a check ride on the new (FMS), "(EVR) did not provide required familiarization flights supervised by (EVR)’s check pilots (FC), despite being told to do so by the (FAA). The familiarization flights are part of the (FAA)-approved training program for (EVR) airplanes equipped with the (FMS)."

(EVR) subsequently "ensured the [FAA] that its pilots (FC) are trained in accordance with its (FAA)-approved training program and continues to operate under an (FAA)-approved training program," the (FAA) stated.

Administrator, Randy Babbit said that, though (EVR) currently is in compliance, "this penalty is appropriate because requiring operators to complete required, approved training is the only way to make sure crews (FC) are fully qualified to operate the equipment and systems to manage flights safely." (EVR) has 30 days to respond to the (FAA).

October 2010: Air transport industry stakeholders welcomed the signing of a Memo of Understanding (MOU) between the USA Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the (FAA) to develop aviation biofuels from forest and crop residues and other green feedstocks.

Boeing (TBC) VP Environment & Aviation Policy, Billy Glover called the five-year agreement "welcome news for the commercial aviation industry, which sees sustainable biofuels as a key element of its plan to lower carbon admissions." Glover noted that Boeing (TBC) is working with the (USDA) and the Air Transport Association (ATA) on the "Farm-to-Fly" initiative, "which seeks to encourage the production of sustainable aviation biofuels through USA agricultural policy. The (USDA)-(FAA) partnership will further help in that regard."

(ATA) President & CEO, James May said, "After formally launching the ‘Farm to Fly’ initiative just three months ago, [Agriculture] Secretary, Vilsack has taken a leadership role in this significant endeavor for aviation and for rural America." He added that the programs "will provide investors, farmers, bankers and USA energy companies with the confidence to invest in these proven, green technologies."

Air transport industry stakeholders welcomed the signing of an (MOU) between the (USDA) and the (FAA) to develop aviation biofuels from forest and crop residues and other green feedstocks.

(ITT) says it has received the in-service decision from the (FAA) for the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system being deployed by the manufacturer. The in-service decision is based on the
implementation of (ADS-B) at four key sites and clears the way for nationwide deployment. (ITT) has installed more than >300 of the 794 (ADS-B) ground stations required. Nationwide, (ADS-B) coverage is scheduled by 2013.

Seattle Tacoma International Airport has received an $18.3-million grant from the (FAA), the largest issued by the (FAA) under its Voluntary Airport Low Emission (VALE) program, to build a central preconditioned air plant. Airplane docking at Sea-Tac gates will be able to turn off auxiliary power units (APU)s and tap into the common heating and air conditioning system, improving air quality and saving fuel. FAA Administrator, Randy Babbitt praised the Port of Seattle, the Alaska Air Group and the Boeing Conpany for the "Greener Skies Over Seattle" program, which employs satellite-based technology to test direct and optimal descent profiles at Sea-Tac.

The USA Transportation Department will distribute another $2.4 billion for 54 highspeed rail projects in 23 states. Known as the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program (HSIPR), the program allocates funding to build new railroads and stations and fund planning studies.

In addition to $8 billion in American Recovery & Reinvestment Act funding given to rail last year, highspeed rail projects are being funded from various appropriations accounts. Of the $2.4 billion, more than >$901 million will go to connect California’s Central Valley and $800 million for Florida to connect Tampa to Orlando. A key goal of (HSIPR) is to connect Chicago with key Midwest cities. Michigan received $161 million to connect Detroit and Chicago,
with the intent of eventually doubling daily round trips between the cities. Iowa received $230 million to connect Iowa City to Chicago.

November 2010: The USA (FAA) awarded its largest Voluntary Airport Low Emission (VALE) grant for an $18.3 million project at Seattle-Tacoma International airport to improve air quality and reduce the use of conventional fuels at the airport. With the (VALE) grant, Sea-Tac (SEA) will install a centralized pre-conditioned air plant that will enable airplanes arriving at gates to shut off their Auxiliary Power Units (APU)s and connect to a cleaner central heating and cooling system, greatly reducing airplane emissions on the ground.

(FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt announced the grant during a press conference in Seattle, where he highlighted environmental efforts under way at Sea-Tac and by the Alaska Air (ASA) Group as examples of the kind of innovative work being done in the aviation community. “The (FAA) is encouraging airlines and airports to find creative ways to reduce aviation’s impact on the environment,” Babbitt said. “NextGen technology will also help aviation go even greener by significantly reducing the amount of fuel burned during air travel.”

The entire project is estimated to cost just over >$33 million. The $18.3 million grant funding will cover the first phase, which will include 53 of Sea-Tac's 81 gates. Phase one construction is expected to begin shortly and be completed by the end of 2011, with the entire program finished by the end of 2012. Remaining costs will be paid through Airport Development Funds, which come directly from fees charged to airlines.

Once installed, CO2 emissions are expected to be reduced by more than >-50,000 tonnes, with airlines saving up to -5 million gallons of fuel and -$10 million in fuel costs per year. The CO2 savings are equivalent to taking 8,700 cars off the road. The project is expected to create 120 jobs. Since the first (VALE) grant award in 2005, the (FAA) has funded 40 projects totaling $83 million.

Babbitt also discussed the innovative program underway in the Sea-Tac area known as "Greener Skies over Seattle." The project began in early 2009 with Alaska Airlines (ASA), the Port of Seattle and Boeing (TBC) using NextGen satellite-based technologies to provide more direct and optimized descent paths to landing.

(TASC) won a 10-year National Airspace System support services contract valued at up to $827.8 million to enable the (FAA) to "accomplish a smooth and successful transition to Next Generation," (TASC) said. Under terms, it will provide advanced systems engineering, investment and business case analysis, planning and forecasting, as well as business, financial and information management support services related to the development and the transformation of the national air transportation system.

The USA Air Transport Association (ATA) said the actual cost of the (FAA)'s proposed rule governing flight crew (FC) duty and rest requirements issued two months ago could cost $19.6 billion — - 15 times more money than the $1.25 billion the government projects — - as it submitted final public comments calling for significant revisions to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).

In its 270-page document filed, the (ATA) urged the (FAA) to revamp the proposed rules, asserting that federal analysis "fails to make a rational connection between the facts, science and operational experience." (ATA) President & CEO, James May said, “The airlines continue to strongly support regulations that demonstrably improve safety performance. That is why the (ATA), in its role on the Aviation Rulemaking Committee, was a strong supporter of a science-based approach to create a new Flight Crew (FC) Duty Time Rule.” However, May noted the group is “very concerned that significant aspects of the proposed rule are not science-based.”

According to May, the (ATA)’s concerns are validated by the fact that “the (FAA)’s economic analysis is off the mark by at least a factor of 15 in its impact assessment, making it imperative that this proposal be significantly revised.” He called on the (FAA) to “work with the airlines and other interested parties to fashion a rule that is truly based on scientific research and real operational factors.”

The USA (FAA) announced it is proposing that all pilot (FC) certificates include photos of the certificate holder, following a requirement that all pilot (FC) certificates be “made of plastic and contain security features, such as a hologram and an ultraviolet-sensitive layer, to prevent tampering, altering and counterfeiting.”

Under the new (FAA) proposal, the new certificates would have a proposed expiration date of eight years. “Our current certificates are plastic and tamper-resistant, but this proposal will make them even more secure,” said (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt.

If finalized, the (FAA) said the resulting final regulation will fulfill a provision of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which requires the (FAA) to issue plastic, tamper-resistant pilot (FC) certificates with photos. Under the proposal, the cost of the new pilot (FC) certificate would be $22 and would have to be renewed every eight years, the (FAA) said. That amount is comparable to drivers’ license fees in many states.

The USA (FAA) proposed a $530,250 civil penalty against Everett, Washington, USA-based repair station, Aviation Technical Services (BFG) for allegedly “failing to follow approved procedures while maintaining 14 Southwest Airlines (SWA) 737s.”

The (FAA) alleged that (ATS) (BFG) failed to follow (SWA)’s Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program in performing five (AD)s to detect fuselage skin cracks. The reported violations are said to have occurred between January 2007 and March 2008.

December 2010: The FAA’s slow progress in implementing recommendations of the (RTCA) NextGen Mid-Term Implementation Task Force and start-up problems with the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) program render “uncertain,” the (FAA)’s ability to meet mid-term goals for implementing the Next Generation Air Transportation System.

This is the conclusion of a recent letter delivered by Department of Transportation Inspector General (IG), Calvin L Scovel III to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Reacting to the letter, incoming committee Chairman, John L Mica (Republican-Florida), called for tighter (FAA) oversight, saying “delay in delivering NextGen benefits is unacceptable.”

Requested by the committee, the (IG)’s 11-page letter serves as an assessment of the (FAA)’s current progress in implementing industry-consensus recommendations of the (RTCA) NextGen Task Force, issued in September 2009. While the (FAA) has established prototype study teams to improve airspace procedures at airports in Dallas and Washington, DC, as recommended by the Task Force, it “is still working to establish definitive milestones to integrate new airspace designs and procedures at metroplex locations,” the (IG) found.

Meanwhile, the (FAA)’s plan to replace existing flight-data system hardware and software at 20 Air Route Traffic Control Centers with the Lockheed Martin (ERAM) system has been troubled by software problems at its initial operating site, Salt Lake City. The projected $2.1 billion program now faces a schedule slip of three to six years and $500 million cost overrun. (ERAM) is a critical component of five of the eight initiatives described as NextGen portfolio programs. “Delays with (ERAM) will have a cascading effect on other fundamental NextGen programs now and well into the future,” the letter advises.

Boeing (TBC) is introducing a new subscription-based "In-Flight Optimization Services" harnessing (NASA) (NAS) technology and existing equipment to offer airlines fuel savings and increased environmental efficiency. "Direct Routes" and "Wind Updates" are designed to be implemented within current air traffic and airline operating procedures using current communication channels, according to Director Airline Efficiency Services, Mike Lewis. “No regulatory changes and little to no new equipment is needed, while no upfront costs are involved,” he told Air Transport World (ATW)'s "Eco-Aviation Today." “The new suite of products provides live actionable, flight-specific advisories and is available for the full fleet, not just Boeing (TBC) airplanes, and importantly, it works within the current air traffic system and airline procedures.”

"Direct Routes" provides up-to-the-minute information to airlines and flight crews, enabling adjustments en route to account for weather and air traffic control (ATC) status. The savings are significant. Initial (TBC) projections show that Direct Routes can save more than >40,000 minutes of flight time per year for a medium-size USA airline.

The systems are based on (NASA) (NAS)’s "Direct-To" software that was developed in the late 1990s. The program brings together weather, winds, aircraft performance, airline model, the user’s business objectives, traffic sequence, flow and airspace constraints and advises the airline operations center of any (ATC)-approvable efficiency opportunities. “To increase the likelihood of air traffic controller approval and to keep workload to a minimum, the advisories are pre-checked for traffic conflicts, wind conditions, established airspace constraints and other factors,” says Lewis. (TBC) has collaborated with (NASA) (NAS), Continental Airlines (CAL), and Southwest Airlines (SWA) in the development of Direct Routes to ensure operational viability and assess the benefits, and has shared details of the project and its findings with the (FAA).

(TBC)’s other In-Flight Optimization Services offering, "Wind Updates," increases fuel efficiency and improves airplane performance by sending datalink messages directly to the flight deck with real-time, flight-customized wind information. “These messages enable the airplane's flight management computer (FMC) to recalculate flight control inputs based on more accurate and precise information,” Lewis says. “Currently, if flight crews (FC)s obtain wind data prior to departure, that data can be as much as 12 to 20 hours old as a flight approaches its destination. Inaccurate and limited weather data can prevent airplanes from operating at optimum speeds, altitudes and trajectories. Wind Updates delivers a fleet wide solution using existing on board equipment and requiring minimal investment." (TBC) projects potential savings of -100 to -200 lbs or more fuel for the descent portion of a typical single-aisle airplane flight and is conducting operational trials with (KLM) Royal Dutch Airlines and Alaska Airlines (ASA). Both services will be available beginning in 2011.

Boeing (TBC) has won a one-year, $5.29-million (NASA) (NAS) study contract to study advanced airliner concepts under (NASA)’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) project. (TBC) joins Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, which won parallel (ERA) study contracts in late November to examine airliner concepts for service entry in 2025. The teams will define a preferred system concept for an airplane that can meet (NASA)’s aggressive N+2 environmental targets for commercial airplanes starting development after 2020. N+2 refers to technology appropriate for two generations beyond what is currently state-of-the-art.

Compared to a current twin-engine wide body, the N+2 goals include designs that burn -50% less fuel, reduce harmful emissions by -50% and reduce areas affected by objectionable airport noise by -83%. The concept will be capable of cruise speeds around Mach 0.85, a range of up to 7,000 miles and a payload of 50,000 to 100,000 lbs. As part of the contracts, each of the three teams will evaluate how its concept will operate within the (FAA)'s NextGen air transportation system. This will include noise profiles, output of nitrous oxide gas and carbon, as well as the ability to fly operational trajectories. The teams also will develop road maps for developing and maturing technology to specific Technology Readiness Levels (TRL), a (TRL) of six being considered the right jumping-off point to move into full-scale development. They also will prioritize technologies that must be developed in the Fiscal 2013 to 2015 time frame.

January 2011: Mistakes by air traffic controllers increased +51% in 2010 as the (FAA) seeks software upgrades for collision warning systems on more than >9,000 airplanes. Critics say the spike in Air Traffic Control (ATC) errors is the result of insufficient training for new employees brought in to cope with an expected wave of retirements, but (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt has stressed that commercial airline fatalities remain near an all-time low and that the USA has an "incredibly safe system." (FAA) officials also contend that the higher mistake statistics are the result of a new initiative that encourages controllers to self-report their errors without fear of reprisals.

Carbon emissions, consumer rights, infrastructure improvements - - the recommendations released last month by the Department of Transportation (DOT)'s Future of Aviation Committee were both ambitious and wide-ranging, according to columnist Ed Perkins. Though some of the recommendations may prove impossible to implement, "giving NextGen another nudge would be enough to justify [the committee's] existence and activities," Perkins writes. "Anything beyond is icing on the cake. Let's hope, at least, that we get the cake."

Prompted by the October 26 incident involving an American Airlines (AAL) that experienced a decompression event after a hole opened in the fuselage on the upper crown just above the left door, the USA (FAA) plans to issue a new airworthiness directive (AD) requiring "repetitive inspections" of 757s to look for fuselage skin cracking and make repairs if needed. "We are issuing this (AD) to detect and correct fatigue cracking of the fuselage skin of the crown skin panel, which could result in pressure venting and consequent rapid decompression of the airplane," the (AD) stated. The regulation is expected to apply to more than >680 757s operating in the USA.

The (FAA) indicated that in addition to the (AAL) incident, which caused no injuries, other 757s have been detected to have "cracking in the fuselage skin of the crown skin panel." It added, "The subject cracking is attributed to fatigue. Such cracking could initiate at multiple locations on the interior surface along the chem-milled step edges above the stringer 4L or 4R (right) lap splices of the skin." The (FAA) said the (AD) will take effect without delay: "An unsafe condition exists that requires the immediate adoption of this (AD). The FAA has found that the risk to the flying public justifies waiving notice and comment prior to adoption of this rule." It noted that repairing cracks, required by the (AD) before flying can resume, "ends the repetitive inspections for the repaired area only."

USA airlines did not have a single fatality last year. It was the third time in the past four years there were no deaths, continuing a dramatic trend toward safer skies. Years without deaths have occurred sporadically since the dawn of the jet age, but never have so many occurred in so short a period, according to an analysis of data from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The average number of deaths fell from about 86 a year in the 1990s to 46 a year since 2000, a -46% drop. Last year also marked the first time that there were no passenger fatalities on any airline based in developed nations, says Arnold Barnett, a professor who specializes in accident statistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)'s Sloan School of Management. "In the entire First World, fatal crashes are at the brink of extinction," Barnett says. Dozens of safety improvements that have gradually eliminated whole categories of crashes, says John Cox, a consultant who previously served as head of safety for a major pilots' union. "The proof of those steps is results like this," Cox says.

Last year, USA carriers flew more than >10 million flights and hauled more than >700 million passengers, but only 14 people suffered serious injuries, according to the (NTSB). There also were no major accidents, the most serious category under the (NTSB)'s definitions.

The USA (FAA) dedicated a new 233-ft airport traffic control (ATC) tower at New York LaGuardia (LGA), replacing the 151-ft tower that had been in operation since 1964. The new tower is equipped with Sensis' (ASDE-X) and the Integrated Control and Monitoring System. "LaGuardia Airport plays an important role in our country's aviation infrastructure," USA Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood said. “This modern tower will help enhance the safety and efficiency of air travel in and out of the New York metropolitan area." "This tower symbolizes the direction the (FAA) is taking by transforming the future of aviation with new technology," (FAA) Aministrator, Randy Babbitt remarked. The total cost of the new tower is estimated at around $100 million. Air traffic controllers at (LGA) handled approximately 400,000 takeoffs and landings in 2010.

February 2011: US Airways (AMW)/(USA) became one of the first USA airlines to receive (FAA) validation of its company-wide implementation of the Safety Management System (SMS), a voluntary safety enhancement program. (AMW)/(USA) said it established systems and programs company-wide, and within each covered department, to help identify and predict where future safety risks might occur, or where existing risks might grow worse.

(AMW)/(USA)'s Flight Operations (pilots (FC)), In-Flight (flight attendants (CA)), Operations Control (dispatchers) and Airport Operations & Technical Operations (maintenance (MT)) departments have all achieved level four of the (SMS) program, the final stage of implementation, where all (SMS) processes are in place.

The USA (FAA) said that it will spend $4.2 million over the next two years to equip 35 JetBlue Airways (JBL) A320s with (ACSS)'s "SafeRoute" (ADS-B) equipment, enabling (JBL) to operate "more precise, satellite-based flights from Boston and New York [JFK] to Florida and the Caribbean" starting in 2012. In return, (JBL) has agreed to cover maintenance costs on the equipment and to share with (FAA) detailed data on flight operations. SEE ATTACHED - - "FAA-2011-02-JBL ADS B."

Speaking at a press conference at Washington National Airport (DCA), (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt said that (JBL) operating (GPS)-guided revenue flights will serve as "proof of concept" for the NextGen Air Traffic Control (ATC) system the (FAA) is endeavoring to implement. "(JBL) is going to share with us the data that will give us the details on where, how and why NextGen is saving time and fuel," he explained. He added that airlines investing in NextGen-capable cockpit equipment will enjoy the benefits of more efficient flight routes "ahead of everyone else." (JBL) will be "using [newly designed] routes like High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes [on highways]," he asserted. "They'll bypass [more congested] routes that other airlines not similarly equipped have to use."

One of the long-running points of friction regarding NextGen has been the airplane equipage cost; while Alaska Airlines (ASA), Southwest Airlines (SWA), (UPS) Airlines and others have made investments in equipage, most USA airlines have balked at the cost and claimed the (FAA) has yet to demonstrate the eventual payoff. Babbitt said the federal investment in equipping (JBL) airplanes is similar to past agency collaborations with those airlines. He noted that further funding is available for airplane equipage on a similar scale to the (JBL) program, but indicated that the industry will have to cover most of the equipage bill. (JBL)'s successful use of (ADS-B) equipment will "help confirm [benefits] to others that are reluctant to invest," he stated.

(JBL) CEO, Dave Barger said (JBL) hopes to "parlay the investment from the government" to achieve cost savings and operate in a more eco-friendly way. "I'd be delighted to make a further investment" in the future to equip additional airplanes, he told reporters at (DCA).

The (FAA) said in a statement that by next year, (JBL) will be able to operate equipped A320s on a "new route to the Caribbean" and eventually may be able to utilize "two new, shorter (ADS-B) only routes to the Caribbean from Boston, New York, and Washington."

March 2011: The National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) has concluded that an air traffic controller at Washington's Reagan National Airport fell asleep during his overnight shift, leaving two commercial jets to land without guidance from the control tower. The 20-year veteran controller was suspended, and FAA Administrator, Randy Babbitt vowed the (FAA) would "get to the bottom of this situation for the safety of the traveling public." As a former pilot (FC), Babbitt said he was "personally outraged" by the situation, but added: "Fortunately, at no point was either plane out of radar contact, and our back-up system kicked in to ensure the safe landing of both airplanes."

The (NTSB) said it is investigating a March 27 incident involving a Southwest Airlines (SWA) 737 headed for Orlando "that was requested to veer off course by Air Traffic Control (ATC) to view into the cockpit of a general aviation airplane that had been out of radio communication." The (FAA) said in a statement that the (SWA) pilots (FC) complied, and "preliminary information indicates that there was a loss of required separation between the two airplanes."

(FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt said the controller, who is a supervisor, has been suspended. "By placing this passenger airplane in close proximity to another plane, the air traffic controller compromised the safety of everyone involved," he commented. "This incident was totally inappropriate. We are reviewing the air traffic procedures used here and making sure everyone understands the protocols for contacting unresponsive airplanes."

The Cirrus contacted (ATC) in Jacksonville 30 seconds after its encounter with the 737, the (FAA) added. Both airplanes landed safely. The incident marks the second time in the past week that the (FAA) has suspended a controller.

USA President, Barack Obama said that he has directed the Departments of Energy (DOE) and Agriculture (USDA) and the Navy "to work with the private sector to create advanced biofuels that can power not just fighter jets, but trucks and commercial airliners."

Speaking at Georgetown University in Washington, Obama outlined an energy policy that includes the goal of lowering the number of barrels of oil imported by the USA daily by one-third from 11 million in 2008. He said that a "substitute for oil that holds tremendous promise is renewable biofuels — not just ethanol, but biofuels made from things like switchgrass, wood chips and biomass."

He noted that the US Air Force (USF) last week "used an advanced biofuel blend to fly an F-22 Raptor faster than the speed of sound. In fact, the (USF) is aiming to get half of its domestic jet fuel from alternative sources by 2016." Obama added, "Over the next two years, we'll help entrepreneurs break ground on four next-generation bio-refineries — each with a capacity of more than >20 million gallons per year. And going forward, we should look for ways to reform biofuels incentives to make sure they meet today's challenges and save taxpayers money."

USA Air Transport Association President & CEO, Nicholas Calio said, "We applaud President Obama's leadership in furthering America's energy security by directing accelerated production of commercially viable biofuels for use in airplanes. We look forward to stepping up our work with the (USDA), (DOE) and the nation's military in furthering advanced biofuels development and deployment."

Airbus (EDS), Iberia (IBE) and the Government of Spain announced a biofuel initiative.

April 2011: USA (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt told the USA Congress that the (FAA) is reviewing requirements for inspecting aging airplanes following the April 1st midair fuselage skin rupture on a Southwest Airlines (SWA) 737-300. The (FAA) issued an emergency directive Tuesday requiring operators of "specific" 737-300/400/500 series airplanes to conduct initial and repetitive electromagnetic inspections for fatigue damage. (SWA) found five 737-300s with cracks during inspections of 79 airplanes following the midair incident. (SWA) said that Boeing had provided repair instructions for "the removal and replacement of an 18-inch section of the lap joint." It said four of the damaged 737s would be back in service following the repair process, which is expected to take 8 to 16 hours per airplane.

The USA (FAA) announced the opening of the David J Hurley Air Traffic Control (ATC) System Command Center, in Warrenton, Virginia.

The (FAA) said the command center is responsible for managing the overall use of the national airspace system. “Traffic management specialists balance air traffic demand with system capacity, working with aviation stakeholders to handle any constraints in the system, such as weather, runway closures and delays,” said the (FAA), which noted they also coordinate with air traffic controllers at facilities throughout the country to ensure that air traffic moves as smoothly as possible.

“With 5,000 airplanes in the sky over the USA at any given moment, the command center plays a critical role in ensuring that all of that traffic is handled safely and efficiently,” said (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt.

The new command center is co-located with the (FAA)’s Potomac (TRACON) that opened in 2002. About 600 employees work at the two facilities, the (FAA) said.

May 2011: As part of the Asia and South Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions (ASPIRE) program, Airservices, along with air navigation service providers Airways New Zealand and AEROTHAI, collaboratively used technological innovation and best practice, air traffic control (ATC) management during a flight from Bangkok to Auckland this month.

Operated by a 777-200ER, the flight left Bangkok at approximately 7.30 pm (local) and was given unrestricted taxi and take-off and an uninterrupted climb to its initial cruise level. Airservices' National Operations Centre in Canberra, and controllers from Upper Airspace Services and East Coast Services provided the flight with a company preferred route across Australian airspace. On arrival at Auckland Airport, the flight was offered an unrestricted descent directly to final approach and the shortest taxi route to the gate. The 777 touched down at Auckland shortly before midday after the 11.5 hour flight. (TII) conducted a second (ASPIRE) demonstration flight from Auckland to Bangkok on Sunday May 8th.

The 'green' air traffic management procedures and technology demonstrated in the (ASPIRE) partnership has seen participating airlines report a saving of 234 kg of fuel per flight on average.
Aerothai now joins Airservices, Airways New Zealand, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau in the joint venture (JV) designed to lessen the environmental impact of aviation across Asia and the South Pacific.

June 2011: Boeing (TBC) and American Airlines (AAL) have announced a partnership to bring an "evolutionary eco-Demonstrator Program" to reality next year. An (AAL) 737-800 will be used to flight test and accelerate the market readiness of emerging technologies, the companies said.

The 737-800, and a twin-aisle airplane to be identified later this year, will serve as the flight test component for the (FAA) Continuous Lower Energy Emissions Noise (CLEEN) program – along with other technologies developed by Boeing (TBC) and other industry partners.

With an (AAL) Engineering team, Boeing (TBC) is finalizing plans for installing the initial technology applications aboard the first plane. Some of the technologies that will be flown in 2012 include adaptable trailing edge technology that reduces noise and emissions during all phases of flight including take-off, cruise and landing, and a variable area fan nozzle that reduces community noise and enables advanced engine efficiency technologies. Boeing (TBC) will also include regenerative fuel cells for on-board power.

United Airlines (UAL) received notice from USA (FAA) of a proposed a $584,375 civil penalty "for allegedly violating regulations for random drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive employees." (UAL) has 30 days to respond to the (FAA).

The USA (FAA) is proposing a $250,000 civil penalty against AirTran (CQT) Airways for allegedly operating a 737 on four passenger flights without properly repairing or testing an angle-of-attack sensor on the airplane, which warns if there is a potential loss of lift, after it was struck by lightning during a flight March 20, 2009. The (FAA) also alleges (CQT) “misused the Minimum Equipment List (MEL) when it decided to defer the repair and continued to operate the airplane.” AirTran (CQT), a subsidiary of Southwest Airlines (SWA), has 30 days to respond to the agency.

The USA (FAA) proposed a $1.05 million civil penalty against Boeing (TBC) "for allegedly failing to correct a known problem in production and installation of the central passenger oxygen system in" 777s. The (FAA) said it based the proposed fine "on inspections of nine newly assembled airplanes between April and October 2010. Inspectors discovered that spacers in the oxygen delivery system distribution tubing on the airplane were not installed correctly. Improper installation could result in the system not supplying oxygen to passengers should depressurization occur."

(FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt said the (FAA) "has strict regulations when it comes to the maintenance and installation of airplane systems that all manufacturers and operators must follow." Boeing (TBC) has 30 days to respond.

July 2011: The USA Department of Transportation (DOT)’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this month marked the 75th anniversary of federal air traffic control as American aviation experiences its safest period ever. Since its inception with 15 workers operating in just three control centers in 1936, the (FAA) has become a world leader, pioneering safety improvements and developing new technology to speed up flights, save fuel and improve safety.

“The United States has the safest air transportation system in the world. But as the last 75 years show, we will never stop working to make our system even safer,” said Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood. “As a pilot (FC), I am in awe of the aviation safety and technological advancements that have been made in the last 75 years,” said (FAA) Administrator Randy Babbitt. “NextGen represents the next milestone in aviation innovation. The (FAA) is committed to transforming our national airspace system so passengers can reach their destinations even more safely and more efficiently than they do today.”

Federal air traffic control (ATC) began on July 6, 1936, when the Bureau of Air Commerce took over the operation of the first airway traffic control centers at Newark, New Jersey, Chicago and Cleveland. Faced with a growing demand for air travel, the 15 employees who made up the original group of controllers took radio position reports from pilots (FC) to plot the progress of each flight, providing no separation services. At the time, the fastest plane in the commercial fleet was the Douglas DC-3, which could fly coast-to-coast in about 17 hours while carrying 21 passengers.

Since then, the air traffic system has expanded from three control centers to include 131 federal stand-alone airport traffic control towers, 132 towers for terminal area approach control, 29 stand-alone terminal radar approach controls and 21 en route traffic control centers. The number of controllers has grown from 15 to more than >15,000, a workforce that handles an average of 50,000 flights each day. The DC-3 has given way to jet airplanes that can carry hundreds of passengers and fly from New York to Los Angeles in about five hours.

The (FAA) continues to pioneer new technologies that will make (ATC) safer and more efficient. The Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen, will transform (ATC) in the USA from a system of ground-based radars to one based on satellites. In parts of the USA, controllers already are beginning to track airplanes via satellites with a state-of-the-art system called Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast, or (ADS-B). (ADS-B) will be available nationwide in 2013 and will enable more direct routes, saving time and money while also lowering the industry’s environmental footprint.

The (FAA) will celebrate the 75th anniversary of federal (ATC) by highlighting advancements in air traffic controller training, NextGen, how the (FAA) handles convective summer weather and aviation infrastructure improvements.

The (FAA) today is the largest organization under the USA (DOT) with nearly 50,000 employees. 15,461 air traffic controllers handle 50,000 flights a day. They ensure that not only passengers, but also that cargo (which could include medical supplies and mail) arrive at their destinations quickly. Air traffic controllers handled 51 million commercial, general aviation and military operations in 2010. Each day, 1.7 million passengers board a plane in the USS. In 2010, 149.6 million passengers flew USA and international flights.

Aviation is critical to our nation’s economy. As recently as 2009, the industry generated more than >10 million jobs, contributed $1.3 trillion annually to the national economy, and accounted for 5.2% of the USA gross domestic product (GDP). 6,071 technical operations specialists maintain the equipment in the National Airspace System (NAS). The (NAS) consists of: 131 federal stand-alone (ATC) towers; 246 contract towers; 132 Towers/Terminal Radar Approach Controls (TRACON) — facilities with both a tower and a (TRACON); 29 stand-alone (TRACON)s; 21 Air Route Traffic Control; and two Center Radar Approach Control facilities; an Air Traffic System Command Center; and 41,000 facilities that house radars and other air traffic equipment.

The (FAA) said that David Grizzle, the (FAA)'s Chief Counsel who had been serving as acting Air Traffic Organization (ATO) COO, will take over the top (ATO) post on a permanent basis. Grizzle became acting (ATO) COO suddenly in April when the controversy over sleeping controller incidents forced Hank Krakowski to resign as head of the (FAA) unit overseeing the USA's (ATC) system.

Grizzle worked for Continental Airlines (CAL) for 25 years before becoming the (FAA) Chief Counsel in 2009. (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt said that Grizzle is "committed to transparency, accountability and to building a safety culture that encourages collaboration."

The (FAA) announced the signing of a Memo of Understanding (MOU) with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association union regarding management of controller fatigue.

The USA (FAA) proposed a $689,800 civil penalty against FedEx Corporation for allegedly violating USA hazardous materials regulations. The (FAA) alleged that in 89 instances from June 13 - September 4, 2009, "FedEx (FED) failed to provide pilots-in-command (FC) with complete, accurate information on the nature, quantity and weight of hazardous materials loaded on their airplanes. Pilots-in-command (FC) must be given this information under hazardous materials regulations."

The (FAA) also alleged that (FED) "accepted four shipments of hazardous materials for transportation by air when those materials were not accurately described and certified in the accompanying shipper's documents. The shipments were accepted between June 18 and August 26, 2009." (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt said, "Pilots (FC) must know they are carrying dangerous goods so they can take all necessary safety precautions." (FED) has 30 days to respond to the (FAA).

August 2011: The USA (FAA) proposed a $298,500 civil penalty against Capital Cargo International Airlines (CCA) for allegedly operating eight 727-200F freighters in 2008 and 2009 "when the airplanes were not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR)s," the (FAA) stated.

(CCA) is a wet-lease (ACMI) operator that offers airport-to-airport cargo services aboard a fleet of 13 727-200Fs and two 757-200Fs. The (FAA) alleged that (CCA) "permitted an unqualified mechanic (MT) to perform certain airplane inspections and to sign airworthiness releases on (CCA)'s airplanes." The mechanic (MT) "had not completed a required general familiarization course for the [727] and did not have prior training or experience equivalent to that course," according to the (FAA). The (FAA) said (CCA) operated more than >500 non-complaint flights. (CCA) has 30 days to respond to the (FAA).

September 2011: USA President Barack Obama called on Congress to pass a "clean extension" of (FAA) funding when it returns from its August recess, urging lawmakers to "stop the political gamesmanship" that led to a partial shutdown of the agency in late July/early August. During brief remarks regarding transportation, Obama did not delve into the specific issues surrounding (FAA) reauthorization or clarify whether he wants Congress to send him a short-term funding extension (which would be the 22nd since the agency's authorization expired in 2007) or a long-term reauthorization bill (which has eluded lawmakers for years, predating the Obama administration).

He did say that the (FAA) should be funded "for longer this time" than the current temporary extension, which expires September 16. The President also encouraged Congress to "address back pay for the workers who were laid off during the last shutdown," which disrupted funding for airport construction projects across the USA.

House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman, John Mica (Republican - Florida) said in a statement issued following Obama's remarks that he will soon be "returning to Washington to consult with our Republican leadership before granting the 22nd (FAA) extension."

The USA (FAA) said it is proposing a $590,000 civil penalty against Seattle-based, Alaska Airlines (ASA) for allegedly operating a 737-400 on 2,107 flights without performing required maintenance after chafed wiring, resulting from an improperly installed hose clamp, caused a 2010 flight deck ceiling fire while the plane was parked at the gate at Anchorage International.

(ASA) had most recently performed maintenance in the burned area in August 2008, according to the (FAA), which noted (ASA) subsequently discovered the same problem existed on nine other 737-400s in its fleet and made corrections. There were no other fires.

“Maintenance work has to be performed precisely and correctly every time,” said (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt. “Improper maintenance can have serious consequences.”

The (USA) (FAA) is proposing a civil penalty of $1,892,000 against Pinnacle Airlines subsidiary Colgan Air, for allegedly allowing 84 newly hired flight attendants (CA) to work on 172 flights aboard a Bombardier DHC-8-Q400, between November 3 - 9, 2009, when they were not properly trained to use the airplane’s cabin fire extinguisher system.

The (FAA) alleges the new Colgan flight attendants (CA) were trained with fire extinguishers used on the airline’s Saab 340s, which operate differently than those used on the DHC-8-Q400.

In response to the (FAA) allegations, Colgan responded that it “was using the same type extinguisher for both the Saab 340B and DHC-8-Q400 training, although the DHC-8-Q400 extinguisher has a hose. Upon notification and out of an abundance of caution, Colgan updated our training manuals and retrained all flight attendants (CA) to ensure full flight attendant (CA) understanding.”

October 2011: Boeing (TBC) announced a research task order award from the USA Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to maximize performance-based navigation capabilities across the United States. The "FAA" initiated a $3.1 million task order for "Greener Skies Initiative 2." The Boeing (TBC) team will evaluate current precision navigation procedures and analyse new procedures to advance the use of flight deck and air traffic control capabilities in the national airspace system for an improved air traffic management (ATM) system.
The Initiative builds on the success of the Greener Skies Over Seattle project, which demonstrated Alaska Airlines (ASA)'s ability to cut fuel burn and reduce emissions by -35% compared to a conventional landing using precision navigation called Required Navigation Performance (RNP).

"The Greener Skies 2 initiative represents another critical milestone as Boeing (TBC) helps to drive implementation of NextGen, the (FAA)'s program to transform the national airspace system," said Neil Planzer, VP Air Traffic Management, Boeing Flight Services. "This research and development initiative supports Boeing (TBC)'s strategic focus on maximising the capabilities of (TBC) airplanes and implement (RNP) globally."

(RNP) is a (GPS)-based navigation technology that enables airplanes to fly precise and predefined paths to closely spaced parallel runways. The result is more efficient departure, en-route and approach profiles and a reduction in fuel usage, emissions and noise. The research will help create new procedures in flight deck and air traffic control ground-based systems, which will lead to new reduced separation criteria and increased safety margins.

The procedures will be tested at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Seattle's Boeing Field for future implementation at capacity-constrained airports across the USA.

The contract is a task order award under the (FAA)'s Systems Engineering 2020 (SE-2020) contract. Boeing (TBC) will lead an industry consortium consisting of SE-2020 team members Adacel, Airbus (EDS), Cessna and Honeywell (SGC). Boeing's Air Traffic Management team draws on expertise from across Boeing, including Commercial Airplanes, Flight Services, including Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen, Boeing Research & Technology, and Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

Boeing (TBC), Alaska Airlines (ASA), the Port of Seattle and the (FAA) began the Greener Skies partnership in 2009. In 2010, the (FAA) approved "Greener Skies" as an official (FAA) project.

November 2011: United Continental Holdings (CAL)/(UAL) received (FAA) approval for a single air operating certificate (AOC), the final regulatory step integrating United Airlines (UAL) and Continental Airlines (CAL). It will take effect in the first quarter of 2012.

The two airlines announced their merger in May 2010 and closed the transaction October 1, 2010. Under the deal, (CAL) shareholders received 1.05 shares of (UAL) common stock for each (CAL) share they owned, with a transaction value of approximately $8 billion.

President & CEO, Jeff Smisek said, "While we have much work ahead of us as we integrate these two great carriers, this is a significant milestone."

Effective November 30, air traffic control (ATC) communications will refer to all (UAL) and (CAL) flights as "United."

The USA Department of Transportation (DOT) has fined Spirit Airlines (SPR) $50,000 for advertising fares that did not include or disclose details on taxes and fees.

According to a (DOT) statement, Spirit (SPR) used billboards and hand-held posters in June to advertise new service from Los Angeles that contained an *asterisk next to the advertised fare. On the billboards, the *asterisk led to small print which stated that additional taxes, fees and conditions would apply, but did not disclose the amount of those taxes and fees. The posters did not include any information about the taxes and fees or their amounts, the (DOT) said.

In addition, the (DOT) said, Spirit (SPR) sent Twitter feeds announcing $9 each-way fares. Consumers clicking on the link that was provided were taken to a page on (SPR)’s website where it was revealed that these fares did not include all taxes and fees, and that they were subject to a roundtrip purchase requirement.

Only after clicking on a second link, which took readers to the bottom of the page, was the amount of additional taxes and fees disclosed, the (DOT) said.

Spirit (SPR)told the (DOT) that it is "committed to complying in full" with the advertising policies and its "omissions in this case were inadvertent." (SPR) said the campaigns in question were brief and of limited scope, and were discontinued when the (DOT) expressed its concern.

“Consumers have a right to know the full price they will be paying when they buy an airline ticket,” Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood said. “We expect airlines to treat their passengers fairly, and we will take enforcement action when they violate our price advertising rules.”

The (DOT) rules require any advertising that includes a price for air transportation to state the full price to be paid by the consumer, including all carrier-imposed surcharges. The only exceptions currently allowed are government-imposed taxes and fees that are assessed on a per-passenger basis, such as passenger facility charges, which may be stated separately from the advertised fare but must be clearly disclosed in the advertisement.

Under the (DOT)’s recently adopted consumer rule, carriers will be required, among other things, to include all government taxes and fees in every advertised fare beginning January 24.

The (FAA) has proposed a civil penalty of $180,000 against Evergreen International Airlines (EVR), of McMinnville, Oregon, for allegedly operating airplanes on seven flights from August 23 to September 19, 2009, when the pilots (FC) on those flights had not been trained in familiarization flights in both Class I and Class II airspace. The (FAA) alleged Evergreen (EVR) provided only the Class I familiarization flights on seven flights.

Evergreen (EVR) has 30 days to respond to the agency.

December 2011: A day after being placed on administrative leave, Randy Babbitt submitted his resignation as the (FAA) Administrator to USA Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, who accepted it.

Prior to Babbitt's resignation, LaHood told reporters that he didn't learn of Babbitt's arrest on a charge of driving while intoxicated until two days later when Fairfax, Virginia police issued a press release about it. "What I told Randy is that I was very disappointed with the way that I learned about this through a press release," he said.

Babbitt said in a statement that he is "unwilling to let anything cast a shadow on the outstanding work done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by my colleagues at the (FAA). They run the finest and safest aviation system in the world, and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work alongside them. I am confident in their ability to successfully carry out all of the critical safety initiatives underway and the improvements that the (FAA) has planned."

Babbitt's term wasn't set to expire until May 2014.

The (FAA) announced it is awarding $7.7 million in contracts to eight companies engaged in developing/producing alternative fuel to power commercial flights.

The (FAA) said that the eight companies "will help the (FAA) develop and approve alternative, sustainably sourced 'drop-in' jet fuels that can be used without changing airplane engine systems or airport fueling infrastructure. As part of that work, the companies will develop these biofuels from sources such as alcohols, sugars, biomass and organic materials known as pyrolysis oils. In addition, the contracts call for research into alternative jet fuel quality control, examination of how jet biofuels affect engine durability, and provide guidance to jet biofuel users about factors that affect sustainability."

Honeywell (UOP) (SGP) is one of the eight companies, winning a $1.1 million contract to produce renewable jet fuel from isobutanol, a type of alcohol. The isobutanol, which will be supplied by the biofuel company Gevo, "can be produced from a variety of starch and sugar feedstocks, including corn," (UOP) said. "In the future, inedible sources, such as corn stover, bagasse and wood residues, could also be used as feedstocks."

(UOP) has been contracted to deliver 100 gallons of renewable jet fuel derived from isobutanol to the USA government in 2012.

The (FAA) said, "Alternative aviation fuels offer enormous potential environmental and economic benefits. This work, in combination with investments being made by other USA agencies and industry, will advance our pursuit of clean alternative jet fuels for a more sustainable NextGen aviation system in the United States and around the world." Other companies receiving contracts as part of the program include LanzaTech ($3 million), Virent Energy Systems ($1.5 million), Velocys ($1.5 million), Honeywell Aerospace (SGC) ($280,000), Metron Aviation ($250,000), Futurepast ($50,000), and Life Cycle Associates ($25,000).

Pratt & Whitney (P&W), which said it sees its future inextricably linked to the development of alternative fuel sources, has participated in the publishing of “The Path to Fuel Readiness," along with the rest of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) R&D committee made up of representatives from the (FAA), (GEC), (P&W) and Boeing (TBC).

(P&W) Manager Advanced Technology, Stephen Kramer told attendees at the (CAAFI) Expo in Washington that the document was prepared following a meeting of the (R&D) team in February, when “confusion” and “lack of direction” was among audience feedback on what was needed for the certification step.

The (FAA) is proposing a $777,000 civil penalty against Horizon Air Industries (ASA) for allegedly operating 32 Bombardier DHC-8-400 turboprops on 49,870 flights between October 19, 2009 and March 17, 2010 when the airplanes were not in compliance with federal aviation regulations. The (FAA) alleged Horizon Air installed new external lighting systems on the airplanes, but did not conduct required tests for radio frequency and electromagnetic interference before returning the airplanes to service. Horizon immediately completed tests and inspections of all 32 airplanes before further flights, the (FAA) said.

The (FAA) issued a long-anticipated final rule on pilot (FC) flight time, duty and rest that imposes tighter restrictions on airlines and flight deck crew (FC), though it also softened some of the provisions contained in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) released on pilot (FC) fatigue 15 months ago.

A major change in the final rule compared to the (NPRM) is that cargo carriers are exempted, though they will be allowed to opt in; USA Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood said he will encourage them to do so.

Also, the rest time allotment was liberalized from the (NPRM), which had called for pilots (FC) to be required to have "9 hours for the opportunity to rest" before reporting for flight duty, with former (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt emphasizing in September 2010 that the clock would not start ticking until the pilot (FC) was "behind closed doors" in a hotel or other designated rest place. Under the regulations as they have been, flight crew (FC) members were required to have a minimum of 8 hours of rest time between flight duty periods, but that could include transit time from an airport to a hotel.

Under the final rule, which airlines will be required to implement by December 21, 2013, there will be a 10-hour minimum rest period. However, transit time can be counted. The pilot (FC) would need to have at least 8 hours in a hotel room or designated sleep area, not 9 hours as had been proposed.

Regarding the new rule's treatment of flight duty time, "the allowable length depends on when the pilot (FC)'s day begins and the number of flight segments he or she is expected to fly, and ranges from 9 - 14 hours for single flight crew (FC) operations," according to the (FAA).

The (FAA) noted an important change from current regulations (which just count duty time as actual time in the cockpit): "Flight duty [under the new rule] includes deadhead transportation, training in an airplane or flight simulator, and airport standby or reserve duty if these tasks occur before a flight or between flights without an intervening required rest period."

In addition, the length of continuous time-off mandated during a 7-day period is being extended from 24 to 30 hours.

"This is a major safety achievement," LaHood said, noting that the USA Department of Transportation had "identified the issue of pilot (FC) fatigue as a top priority following the crash of Colgan Air flight 3407."

The (FAA) said the estimated cost to airlines of implementing the rule will be $297 million. USA airlines had warned that implementing the (NPRM) would lead to significant job cuts.

The Independent Pilots Association (IPA), representing about 2,700 United Parcel Service (UPS) pilots (FC), petitioned a USA Federal Court in Washington, challenging cargo carriers' exemption from the new pilot (FC) flight time, duty and rest regulations finalized by the (FAA) this month.

The (FAA)'s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on pilot (FC) fatigue issued in September 2010 did include airfreight airlines. But the (FAA) chose to exclude cargo carriers from the final rule, instead giving them the option to opt into the new requirements. "Covering cargo operators under the new rule would be too costly compared to the benefits generated in this portion of the industry," the (FAA) stated.

(IPA) attorney, William Trent said the union does not seek to delay implementation of the rule (USA airlines must comply with the new regulations by December 21, 2013), but wants cargo airlines included within the scope of the rule. The (FAA) made clear in the text of the new rule that cargo was excluded based on a cost-benefit analysis, saying that cargo "compliance costs significantly exceed the quantified societal benefits."

Implementation of the rule is expected to cost airlines $297 million. The (FAA) contended that including cargo carriers would add another $306 million in costs for the airline industry. In a footnote to the rule, the (FAA) explained why it believes imposing such costs on airfreight operators are not worth it: "The projected benefit of avoiding one fatal all-cargo accident ranges between $20.35 million and $32.55 million, depending on the number of flight crew (FC) members on board the airplane."

Trent said in a statement that the (FAA)'s new rule is plagued by "internal inconsistency," adding, "For example, the (FAA) states that current regulations do not adequately address the risk of fatigue and that the maintenance of the status quo presents an 'unacceptably high aviation accident risk.' Yet two of the very factors that the (FAA) cites as exacerbating the risk of pilot fatigue (operating at night and crossing multiple time zones) are more present in cargo operations than in passenger operations."

He accused the (FAA) of providing insufficient information on how it conducted the cost-benefit analysis that led to cargo's exemption. "The rule is wholly and utterly opaque when it comes to providing any factual support for the cost-benefit conclusions reached," Trent said.

January 2012: USA Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, Thomas Donohue called on Congress to make transitioning to a satellite-based, NextGen air traffic control (ATC) system "a top priority."

Delivering his annual "State of American Business" address in Washington, the influential business lobbyist said upgrading (ATC) should be part of a "broader effort to modernize the nation's entire physical platform." Financing for the NextGen system is tied up in long-stalled talks in Congress over (FAA) re-authorization; the (FAA)'s latest temporary funding extension expires January 31. Donohue said that a "new NextGen air traffic control system . . . will ease delays, conserve fuel, create jobs and save lives."

Government creating certainty on (ATC) and other infrastructure funding would be helpful to a USA business community dealing with a slow recovery from the 2008 - 2009 financial downturn, he said. "Unfortunately, we think the economy will actually slow down in the early months of the year," he warned. "We expect [USA (GDP)] growth to average about 2.5% in the first half and then work its way back to about 3% by the end of the year."

He noted areas of apprehension for USA business: "We are deeply concerned that our largest export market and commercial partner, the European Union (EU), faces an unresolved financial crisis and a looming recession. There will be leadership transitions and elections in Taiwan, China, North Korea, Russia, France, Venezuela, and Mexico — just to name a few. And in case you haven't noticed, there's an election coming up in the USA as well."

February 2012: The (FAA) has proposed requiring USA airline pilots (FC) to hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, meaning first officers (FC) will need 1,500 flight hous before ascending to a Part 121 cockpit. First officers (FC) currently need an instrument rating and commercial pilot certificate requiring just 250 hours.

The (FAA) was mandated to raise commercial airline pilot (FC) training requirements in 2010 by Congress, which passed aviation safety legislation in response to the 2009 Colgan Air crash. Pilot (FC) training advocates have urged the (FAA) to develop alternatives to meet the 1,500 hours requirement, arguing both that hours are a poor way to judge a pilot (FC)'s aptitude and that accumulating so many hours will be cost-prohibitive for many young pilots (FC).

The proposed rule, on which the public now has 60 days to comment, does include two exceptions to the 1,500 hour requirement. Former military pilots (FC) with 750 hours of flight time "would be able to apply for an (ATP) certificate with restricted privileges," allowing them to become first officers (FC), the (FAA) said. In addition, graduates of a four-year baccalaureate aviation degree program will be able to get an (ATP) with 1,000 hours of flight time.

"Our pilots (FC) need to have the right training and the right qualifications so they can be prepared to handle any situation they encounter in the cockpit," (FAA) Acting Administrator, Michael Huerta said. "I believe this proposed rule will ensure our nation's pilots (FC) have the necessary skills and experience."

March 2012: Acting (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta said the (FAA) is optimistic about strong, long-term USA air passenger traffic growth despite a near-term stagnation in capacity expansion. This includes USA carriers reaching the milestone of 1 billion passengers carried annually by 2024, up +36.9% from 730.7 million passengers flown by USA airlines in 2011, according to the (FAA).

But air traffic management must be aggressively modernized to meet those demand expectations, Huerta told the (FAA)'s annual Aviation Forecast Conference in Washington. "We will beef up performance-based navigation [PBN] activities," he said. "We will expedite the development and deployment of NextGen [ATC]."

Huerta said the four-year (FAA) Reauthorization bill passed by Congress last month, gives the (FAA) the necessary funding "stability" to move forward on NextGen. He noted that there are 23 metroplexes in the USA to/from which airlines operate. "In each of those, we know we need to do things to improve the airspace [design]," he said, adding that the agency will reduce the length of time it takes to implement new airspace procedures at major airports from 5 to 10 years to 3 years.

Airlines operating into Atlanta will fly an aggregate of -1.2 million fewer miles per year once the airspace around the airport is fully redesigned, Huerta said. "The way [airplane] descend now requires leveling off at every stage," he explained. "I like to think of it as the equivalent of stop-and-start driving - - [Using (PBN)] airplanes glide down like sliding down a banister."

Huerta said that NextGen, once fully implemented, will reduce flight delays nationwide by -38% and save -1.4 billion gallons of airplane fuel per year. "We are creating today a new template for how we manage air traffic here in the United States and around the world," he stated.

In its annual NextGen Implementation Plan, the (FAA) said it is "enthusiastic and confident" about the direction of its multi-billion dollar Next Generation Air Transportation (NextGen) initiative, adding the (FAA) has demonstrated steady and tangible progress in 2011 and expects more progress in 2012 and beyond. The report also responded to the NextGen Advisory Committee's (NAC) working group recommendations, issued in September.

"Even in the face of new challenges, the (FAA) remains confident about NextGen success. Given our history of overcoming difficulties, we are prepared to respond to any new obstacles," according to the report.

Going forward, the (FAA) said it will focus on expanded surface data-sharing capabilities and the development of closely spaced parallel runways. During the 2013 - 2015 time frame, the (FAA) said it plans on developing and implementing mechanisms to provide National Airspace users with information about the current and future status of Special Activity Airspace, which is airspace set aside for military training and other specialized use, and leverage Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) infrastructure for surface monitoring. Initial tower datacomm capability for revised departure clearance is expected in 2015; the (FAA) is set to award the datacomm contract this summer.

Also, in 2012, the (FAA) will initiate Surface Wide Information Management for surface data; publish (FAA) responses to Aviation Rulemaking Committee recommendations on (ADS-B In); issue a final investment decision on (ADS-B In); and work toward satellite navigation alternatives to (ILS) for dependent staggered approaches.

"Uncertainties and constraints increase the importance of managing NextGen with the skill and determination that such a complex system engineering project requires. We are making considerable progress on challenges that are malleable to management solutions," according to the report.

Among the 2011 highlights:

-- More than >300 (ADS-B) ground stations were operational by the end of 2011. The (FAA) said it expects the total complement of about 700 radio stations to be in place and operating by 2014.

-- the (FAA) said it published 354 Wide Area Augmentation (WAAS) (LPV) procedures in 2011. As of February 2012, there were nearly 2,800 (LPV)s at more than >1,400 airports nationwide.

-- Also, the (FAA) advanced the design phase of its metroplex initiative in two locations.

The (FAA) said the total number of airplanes in the USA commercial airline fleet (including regional carriers) stood at an estimated 7,185 at the end of 2011, down 29 airplanes compared to the end of 2010.

According to figures released last week by the (FAA), USA airlines operated 3,739 mainline passenger airplanes (over 90 seats) last year, 879 mainline cargo airplanes (including those operated by FedEx (FED) and (UPS)) and 2,567 regional airplane jets/turboprops. Mainline USA carriers' passenger jet fleet lowered by 12 airplanes in 2011, the (FAA) said. That followed a +41 unit increase in 2010.

"The decrease [in 2011] was driven by a -61 unit decrease by the remaining network carriers as they continued to prune their fleets in the face of uncertain economic growth and rising fuel prices," the (FAA) said. "With the decline of the fleet in 2011, the mainline carrier fleet now stands at 16.7% below the level it was in 2000."

The USA commercial passenger fleet is "undergoing transformation," according to the (FAA). "The mainline carriers are retiring older, less fuel efficient airplanes [737-300/400/500s and MD-80s] and replacing them with more technologically advanced A320 and 737-700/800/900 airplanes. The regional carriers are growing their fleet of 70 - 90 seat regional jet airplanes and reducing their fleet of 50-seat jet airplanes."

The (FAA) has compiled a list of 30 airports that it will use to monitor the progress of its plan to increase aviation system safety and efficiency.

This is a follow-on step after the (FAA)’s Operational Evolution Plan (OEP), a 10-year initiative (2000 - 2010) that increased capacity. “With the (OEP) process, we were able to complete 22 airfield projects at 19 airports. Those improvements enabled airports to accommodate two million more additional operations.”

The list, known as "Core 30," will be updated periodically and was described by the (FAA) as “a living document.” It includes 30 airports, “but that number can fluctuate as the (FAA) assesses the airports. As it stands now, the airports that are on the list represent the airports that have an overall significance to the national air transportation system, based on air traffic operations and passenger boardings.”

The list allows the (FAA) to assess the safety and efficiency of the overall system, through monitoring the performance of the 30 “daily, weekly, monthly,” although the (FAA) Deputy Director, Office of Airport Planning & Programming, Elliot Black said, “there’s no value judgment to being on that list or not being on that list.”

In mid-March, the airports on the list were: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago Midway, Chicago O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Memphis International, Miami, Minneapolis, New York (JFK), New York La Guardia, Newark, Orlando International, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, Washington Dulles and Washington Reagan.

“These are some of the busiest airports,” the (FAA) spokesperson said. “We want to make sure things are running safely and efficiently. That’s what we will be monitoring.”

USA President, Barack Obama has nominated acting (FAA) administrator, Michael Huerta to officially become the (FAA)'s full-time head for a five-year term.

Huerta abruptly ascended from (FAA) Deputy Administrator to Acting Chief in December 2011 after former administrator Randy Babbitt resigned following an arrest on a charge of driving while intoxicated in suburban Virginia. Babbitt was mid-way through a five-year term that was not set to expire until May 2014.

According to a White House statement, Huerta will serve his own five-year term as Administrator, if the Senate confirms his nomination. Huerta has held various transportation-related positions in the public and private sectors, including serving as Department of Transportation Chief of Staff in the late 1990s.

At the (FAA)'s annual Aviation Forecast Conference earlier this month, Huerta spoke of the importance of aggressively modernizing the USA (ATC) system.

Huerta's nomination quickly won the endorsement of USA airlines. Airlines for America (A4A) President & (CEO), Nicholas Calio called him "an outstanding choice" and urged the Senate "to move swiftly on a nomination so important to the traveling public."

May 2012: The (FAA) awarded a $2.77 million contract to the (ITT) Corporation and (GE)’s Naverus to help accelerate the development of satellite-based procedures that will allow airplanes to fly more directly to their destinations.

According to the (FAA), prime contractor (ITT), and Naverus will develop required navigation performance (RNP) approach procedures for five USA airports: Anchorage International in Alaska, Dayton International in Ohio, Kansas City International, Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International in Wisconsin, and Syracuse Hancock International in New York.

The companies will design, implement and maintain a total of 10 procedures — two for each airport. The (FAA) has developed 305 (RNP) procedures.

“NextGen will help deliver an environmentally friendly, more efficient traveling experience for the flying public,” said USA Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood. Acting (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta said that airplanes using (RNP) approaches “make a more direct and efficient approach into the airport, also decreasing fuel burn.”

A USA judge dismissed charges of driving under the influence against former (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt. Babbitt resigned last year after the charges became public.

The "Washington Post" reported that the trial in a Virginia court ended soon after it began when the presiding judge saw the video of Babbitt driving during the alleged incident and said the police officer had no proper cause to apprehend Babbitt. Babbitt’s lawyer also said that the initial breath test gave an alcohol reading that was below Virginia’s legal limit.

Babbitt’s (FAA) tenure was planned to extend to May 2014. In March, USA President, Barack Obama nominated acting Administrator, Michael Huerta to become the (FAA)'s full-time head for a five-year term.

“I am thrilled the charges against me have been dismissed at trial and I have been found not guilty,” Babbitt said.

“As I said in December, I resigned from the (FAA), because I was unwilling to let anything cast a shadow on the outstanding work being done every day by the men and women who work there. I am extremely grateful for the colleagues and friends who have expressed their support for me over the past few months. Over my career I have worked on some of the most important issues facing the aviation industry, and now that this matter has been resolved, I look forward to returning to that work.”

The (FAA) is proposing a civil penalty of $210,000 against Alaska Airlines (ASA) for allegedly failing to properly document and tag deactivated systems and equipment before making repairs.

The (FAA) alleged that on 10 occasions between June 19, 2010, and January 13, 2011, (ASA) performed maintenance on six of its 737 airplanes but failed to document the alternative actions it took and install the appropriate danger tag. “These requirements are safety measures designed to reduce hazards to maintenance technicians (MT) during maintenance and to prevent potential damage to the airplanes and onboard systems,” the (FAA) said.

An (ASA) spokesman said “In these instances, (ASA) performed the required maintenance work according to the airplane manufacturer’s specifications; however, we did not properly document the alternate procedure. The maintenance was performed during ground operational checks and at no time were passengers or employees in danger.”

Since receiving the letter of investigation, (ASA) said it has “implemented a number of changes to ensure compliance, including revising the maintenance manual, implementing a new training program for aircraft technicians and performing routine compliance audits. We are also working cooperatively with the (FAA) to resolve the proposed penalty.”

(ASA) has 30 days to respond to the (FAA).

The (FAA) is proposing a $395,850 civil penalty against US Airways ((AMW)/(USA)) for allegedly violating USA Department of Transportation hazardous materials regulations.

The (FAA) said a periodic dangerous goods inspection of USA facilities at Hartford’s Bradley International airport (BDL) between May 10 - 18, 2010 revealed (AMW)/(USA) “committed various violations on 12 flights to/from (BDL) between February 26 and May 12, 2010,” it alleged.

In one instance, the (FAA) alleged that (AMW)/(USA) “had accepted an undeclared shipment containing 10 disposable cigarette lighters filled with flammable gas,” a discrepancy the airline failed to report, according to the regulator.

“In another instance, (AMW)/(USA) offered an improperly packaged shipment containing wet cell batteries filled with alkali (a corrosive) for transportation by air on a (AMW)/(USA) passenger-carrying flight,” the (FAA) stated.

The (FAA) also alleged the airline failed to provide pilots (FC) with the required "accurate and legible written information" regarding 23 shipments of hazardous materials it accepted for transportation by air.

An (AMW)/(USA) spokesperson said it has “responded promptly to the (FAA) regarding this matter in June 2010 and initiated a comprehensive review of our hazardous materials handling procedures and systematically evaluated our cargo operations to ensure we operate at the highest level of safety.”

(AMW/(USA) has 30 days to respond to the agency.

Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) has received (FAA) approval to install its blended winglets on the Boeing 767 converted freighter (767 BCF).

“Blended winglet technology installed on a Boeing 767-300ER/F/BCF reduces fuel burn by up to 500,000 gallons per airplane per year, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by over >5,000 tons per year,” (APB) said.

It said the technology can also extend the range of the airplane by up to +320 nautical miles or increase the payload by up to +16,000 pounds.

More than >4,400 blended winglets are installed on Boeing 737, 757 and 767 airplanes.

The (FAA) is reconsidering its exemption for cargo carriers from its pilot (FC) flight time, duty and rest regulations, conceding that it made “errors” in developing its justification for the exemption.

The (FAA) finalized strict new fatigue rules for pilots (FC) late last year, but cargo pilots were not included in the new regulations. The Independent Pilots Assoctiation (IPA), representing about 2,700 United Parcel Service (UPS) pilots, challenged the exemption in court. “The rule is wholly and utterly opaque when it comes to providing any factual support for the cost-benefit conclusions reached,” the (IPA) said.

The (FAA) acknowledged that it has asked the court to suspend the (IPA)’s case “while the (FAA) corrects inadvertent errors found in the (FAA)'s cost-benefit analysis for cargo flight operations. The (FAA) will ask an outside group to review the cargo analysis and then will reissue the cargo analysis for public comment.”

(IPA) President, Robert Travis said, “In the context of our lawsuit, the (FAA) is now willing to allow for an open and public examination of the costs and benefits of having one level of aviation safety. Make no mistake, this is not a final victory. However, getting the (FAA) to reconsider this critical safety issue under the bright light of full public scrutiny and accountability is an important first step.”

June 2012: Iridium Communications and (NAV) Canada announced a planned joint venture (JV) to build a space-based air traffic tracking system that the companies said will cover the entire planet, including oceans and remote regions.

Financial details of the (JV), called "Aireon," were not revealed. But Iridium and (NAV) Canada did outline the (JV)’s plans, which call for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) receivers to be built into each of the 66 satellites making up Iridium (NEXT), the satellite communications company’s next generation of satellites set to be put in orbit from 2015 to 2017.

The (ADS-B) receivers will provide coverage to interested air navigation service providers of all of earth’s airspace, including areas not covered by the ground-based (ADS-B) sensors being installed across the USA as part of the country’s NextGen (ATC) upgrade, Iridium and (NAV) Canada said. This would enable much more efficient airplane spacing, more direct routing, and more efficient ascent/descent procedures, they added.

“We are providing a one-stop solution to track and monitor global air traffic,” said Don Thoma, an Iridium executive who was named Aireon President & (CEO). “This is a revolutionary platform. Every air navigation services provider around the world would be able to use it without much upfront investment.”

Russ Chew, managing partner of (NEXA) Capital Partners and head of the (FAA)’s Air Traffic Organization from 2003 - 2007, was introduced as a senior advisor to Aireon, along with Norman Mineta, the former USA Transportation Secretary. “This is a really big deal,” Chew told reporters. “This will significantly improve operational safety in regions of the world without [modern air traffic management (ATM)] infrastructure. This is truly innovative and ground breaking for all of aviation.”

Chew said that the Aireon satellite network would not “replace” the ground-based (ADS-B) receivers being installed by the USA and other countries, but would “augment” the earth-bound equipment. “Together, they will provide a very powerful system,” he said.

It was also announced that Harris Corporation will provide 81 (ADS-B) 1090 Extended Squitter (ES) receiver payloads to Aireon to be hosted on the Iridium (NEXT) satellites. The (FAA) and (ITT) Exelis will also provide support to Aireon, but the (FAA) has not made any firm commitment to sign up for the Aireon traffic management information.

Iridium (CEO), Matt Desch said the Aireon (ADS-B) system is expected to be “fully operational in 2017 or shortly thereafter.” He added that the final details of the (JV)’s makeup will be “worked out in weeks not months.”

July 2012: The (FAA) is proposing two civil penalties totaling $987,500 against Delta Air Lines (DAL) for allegedly operating an A320 and a 737-800 on flights when they were not in compliance with federal aviation regulations.

The (FAA) is proposing a civil penalty of $300,000 against (DAL) for allegedly operating an A320 on 884 flights between May 25, 2010 and January 3, 2011, after deferring repair of a broken cockpit floodlight socket at the first officer (FC)’s position.

“Maintenance procedures allow the airline to defer repairs on a dome light for no more than 10 days before repairing or replacing it,” the (FAA) said, pointing out it discovered the alleged violation during a routine inspection.

The (FAA) also said it is proposing a civil penalty of $687,500 against (DAL) for failing to repair a chip in the nose radome, or nose cone, on a 737-800 after an (FAA) inspector had observed chip damage during a preflight inspection.

“(DAL)’s structural repair manual (SRM) requires (DAL) to seal radome chip damage before further flight. The en-route inspection took place on February 25, 2010, and (DAL) operated the plane on 20 additional flights between that date and March 1 while the airplane was not in compliance.” It further alleges (DAL) again failed to repair the radome during layover inspections of the airplanes on February 25 and 28.

A (DAL) spokesperson said “The safety and security of our customers and crew is (DAL)’s highest core value. At no time was either of these airplanes operating in an unsafe manner. Once (DAL) verified the concerns of the (FAA), (DAL) initiated immediate and necessary actions to ensure that the airplanes were in full compliance with the regulatory requirements.”

(DAL) has 30 days to respond to the agency.

August 2012: The (FAA) is proposing a $681,200 civil penalty against Federal Express (FED) for allegedly violating USA Department of Transportation hazardous materials regulations.

The (FAA) alleges that “between August 2 and August 12, 2010, (FED) employees in numerous locations around the country improperly accepted several dozen shipments containing hazardous materials for transportation by air.”

The (FAA) also alleges that “in 19 instances on August 12, 2010, (FED) failed to provide pilots (FC) of flights to and from Los Angeles with the required ‘accurate and legible written information’ about shipments of hazardous materials it accepted for transportation by air,” the (FAA) said.

Additionally, the (FAA) alleges (FED) “failed to document hazardous materials training and testing for three individuals who were among those accepting the shipments for the company.”

A (FED) spokesman said: “FedEx Express safely and reliably transports millions of items classified as dangerous goods every year. While we realize that limited documentation and shipping label errors did occur, at no time was the safety of the public or our team members at risk. Our goal is 100% compliance and we have put processes in place to ensure these errors are not repeated.”

(FED) has 30 days to respond to the (FAA).

The (FAA) late last month issued an "Information for Operators" (InFO) guidance “reminder” that carriers should not use any seat belt extenders other than those that are (FAA)-issued.

“The bottom line is that passengers cannot bring their own seat belt extender on an airplane. It must be provided by the airline so we can ensure that the device has been properly maintained and inspected.”

Some personal seat belt extenders “are marketed as (FAA)-(PMA) approved,’” the (InFO) said. “Some are categorized as specific to each airline and others are sold under the heading ‘Universal, adjustable and (FAA)-safe’ and are sold ‘for use on all airlines.’ While these extenders may have a label that indicates they are (FAA)-approved and conform to (TSO-C22g), they are not inspected and maintained under each airline's (FAA)-accepted continuous airworthiness maintenance program (CAMP) and should not be used.”

California-based, Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is joining forces with the New York-based USA National Alliance to Advance NextGen (NAANG) association to call attention to the need for the “rapid upgrading” of the USA air traffic system (ATS).

“We applaud the progress the (FAA) is making with NextGen, but at an estimated cost of $40 billion, there are continuing concerns that appropriated levels for NextGen funding are falling short of what is needed,” (MTC) Commissioner, James Spering said. “Additional delays in implementing NextGen will only increase costs for the program. Along with the other members of (NAANG), we in the Bay Area are calling on Congress to make funding of NextGen a top national transportation and infrastructure priority again, and to fund the NextGen program at levels that will ensure its success.”

If planned severe budget cuts known in the USA as sequestration take effect in early Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, they could delay implementation of NextGen past the target of 2025 by a decade or more, according to some studies.

The USA (FAA) is forming a government-study group to determine whether airlines can be permitted to allow passengers more widespread use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) during flight.

The group, which has been formed through an aviation rulemaking committee, will be established this fall and will meet for six months. Representatives from the mobile technology and aviation manufacturing industries, pilot (FC) and flight attendant (CA) groups, airlines, and passenger associations will be included.

Public input will be sought via a request for comments which will be included in the data collected to determine the methods and criteria operators use to permit (PED)s during flights. Cell phone use for voice communications during flight will not be part of the study.

“We’re looking for information to help air carriers and operators decide if they can allow more widespread use of electronic devices in today’s airplanes,” (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta said. “We also want solid safety data to make sure tomorrow’s airplane designs are protected from interference.”

Current (FAA) regulations require an airplane operator to determine that radio frequency interference from (PED)s are not a flight safety risk before the operator authorizes them for use during certain phases of flight.

The (FAA) is seeking comments in the following areas:

* Operational, safety and security challenges associated with expanding (PED) use.

* Data sharing between airplane operators and manufacturers to facilitate authorization of (PED) use.

* Necessity of new certification regulations requiring new airplane designs to tolerate (PED) emissions.

* Information-sharing for manufacturers who already have proven (PED) and airplane system compatibility to provide information to operators for new and modified airplanes.

* Development of consumer electronics industry standards for airplane-friendly (PED)s, or airplane-compatible modes of operation.

* Required publication of airplane operators’ (PED) policies.

* Restriction of (PED) use during takeoff, approach, landing and abnormal conditions to avoid distracting passengers during safety briefings and prevent possible injury to passengers.

* Development of standards for systems that actively detect potentially hazardous (PED) emissions.

* Technical challenges associated with further (PED) usage, and support from (PED) manufacturers to commercial airplane operators.

September 2012: The (FAA) has approved American Airlines (AAL)'s expansion of its iPad Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) program, making it the first commercial carrier to receive (FAA) approval to use the iPad in the cockpit during all phases of flight.

(AAL) pilots (FC) will use the (FAA)-approved Jeppesen iPad application to replace the 35-pound standard bag from each (AAL) airplane, which will save (AAL) an estimated $1.2 million of fuel annually.

"This is a very exciting and important milestone for all of us at (AAL) as we work to modernize our processes and best meet the needs of our people," said Captain John Hale, American's VP Flight. "With this approval from the (FAA), we will be able to use iPad to fully realize the benefits of our (EFB) program, including improving the work environment for our pilots (FC), reducing our dependency on paper products and increasing fuel efficiency on our airplanes. We are equipping our people with the best resources and this will allow our pilots (FC) to fly more efficiently."

(AAL) said its pilots (FC) will begin using iPads immediately on its 777 fleet, and expects to have (FAA) approval for use on all of its airplane types by the end of the year.

Flight attendants (CA) on (AAL) flights have already begun using iPads on flights to give them better information about passengers and their travel needs.

"Jeppesen mobile solutions will deliver our industry-leading flight information through the thousands of iPads that will be integrated by (AAL) in its operations," said Thomas Wede, Senior VP & General Manager of aviation at Jeppesen. "We fully support (AAL) in this process and our mobile data software solution will work to increase operational efficiency, enhance situational awareness and reduce airline costs."

The (FAA) awarded a series of Airport Improvement Program grants for USA Airports. “These investments help support economic growth as we enhance our nation’s airports,” said USA Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood of the new grants.

The James M Cox Dayton international Airport was awarded a $4.8 million grant, which will be used for the removal of the Concourse D building, along with rehabilitating and expanding the apron area around the Ohio-based airport terminal. The renovation will provide a clear line of sight between the air traffic control (ATC) tower and the airplane movement area near the terminal. The project is expected for completion in late 2013.

The Fort Worth Alliance Airport was awarded $10 million to extend two runways to 11,000 feet. This multi-year project is expected to be complete in 2016.

A grant of $9.6 million was awarded for the Orlando, Florida International Airport to rehabilitate the runway and taxiway and to purchase an airplane rescue & fire fighting vehicle.

Other grants include $6.9 million for Portland-Hillsboro, Oregon Airport for runway and taxiway improvements; $7.1 million for Venice, Florida Municipal Airport for runway repairs, runway safety area upgrades and taxiway construction; $18 Million for Van Nuys, California Airport to reconstruct and repave the primary runway; and $3.2 million for Indianapolis International Airport to build a de-icing containment facility.

The (FAA) issued two Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants totaling more than >$14 million for airports in New Jersey and Puerto Rico. The (FAA) issued an $8.1 million grant to upgrade the electrical system at Jose Aponte de la Torre Airport in Ceiba, Puerto Rico and a $6.2 million grant to construct a new runway at Robert J Miller-Ocean County Airport in Berkeley Township, New Jersey.

At Robert J Miller-Ocean County the new runway 14/32 will increase efficiency during the winter months when northwest winds limit operations on the existing 6,000-foot runway. The runway is expected to be completed in 2014.

The grant for Jose Aponte will bring the airport’s electrical system into compliance with the Puerto Rico Electrical Power Agency’s electrical grid requirements. The new system will take approximately one year to complete.

The USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended the USA (FAA) require large airplanes be equipped with an anti-ground collision aid.

The (NTSB) recommends systems such as an on board external-mounted camera to provide pilots (FC) a clear view of the airplane’s wingtips while taxiing to ensure clearance from other airplanes, vehicles and obstacles. According to the NTSB, on large airplanes (such as the 747, 757, 767 and 777; the A380; and the McDonnell Douglas MD-10 and MD-11) the pilot (FC) cannot see the wingtips from the cockpit “unless the pilot (FC) opens the cockpit window and extends his or her head out of the window, which is often impractical.”

The recommendation follows three recent ground collision accidents in which large airplanes collided with another airplane while taxiing.

These included a May 30 incident in which the right wingtip of an (EVA) Air 747-400 struck the rudder and vertical stabilizer of an American Eagle Embraer ERJ-135; an incident in which the left winglet of a Delta Air Lines (DAL) 767 struck the horizontal stabilizer of an Atlantic Southeast Airlines Bombardier (BMB) CRJ900; and an incident in which the left wingtip of an AirFrance A380 struck the horizontal stabilizer and rudder of a Comair (COI) Bombardier (BMB) CRJ701.

The (NTSB) said the anti-collision aids should be installed on newly manufactured and certificated airplanes and that existing large airplanes should be retrofitted with the equipment.

The (NTSB) said it made the same recommendation to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The (NTSB) is asking the (FAA) to issue an airworthiness directive (AD) to require ultrasonic inspection for all airplanes equipped with (GEnx-1B) and (GEnx-2B) engines before further flight. The (NTSB)’s recommendations come following recent incidents where (GEnx) engines installed on 787s and a 747-8 were found to have damage on their fan midshafts.

"Safety is the agency’s top priority. Inspections already have been completed on all passenger airplanes (none of which are USA airlines). Atlas Cargo Airlines (TLS) is the only operator with two USA registered airplanes. We understand one inspection was completed with no findings and the second airplane will also be inspected. The (FAA) will soon issue an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) and will take appropriate action. The (FAA) will continue to review the recommendations and coordinate closely with the (NTSB) and (GE) as part of the investigation,” the (FAA) said in an emailed statement.

In July, the (NTSB) initiated an investigation of an engine failure that occurred on a 787 during a pre-delivery taxi test in South Carolina. The investigation is ongoing, though the (NTSB) has since stated that the fan midshaft had a crack on it.

On August 31st, a 787 that had not yet flown, was found to have a similar crack on the fan midshaft of one of its (GEnx-1B) engines. Following that incident, a 747-8F operated by Air Bridge Cargo (ABC) experienced an engine failure during the takeoff roll in Shanghai, China. An inspection of the (GEnx-1B) engine showed similar damage on the fan midshaft.

"The parties to our investigation (the (FAA), (GEC) and Boeing (TBC)) have taken many important steps and additional efforts are in progress to ensure that the fleet is inspected properly," said (NTSB) Chairman, Deborah A P Hersman. "We are issuing this recommendation because of the potential for multiple engine failures on a single airplane and the urgent need for the (FAA) to act immediately."

(GEC) has developed a field ultrasonic inspection method to specifically inspect the fan midshaft. The (NTSB) said all in-service and spare (GEnx-1B) and (GEnx-2B) engines on passenger airplanes have been inspected since the incidents. There are approximately 43 (GEnx-2B) engines on 747-8F cargo airplanes that have not yet been inspected.

As a result of the above, the (FAA) issued a new Airworthiness Directive (AD) calling for ultrasonic inspections (UI) of all (GE) (GEnx-1B) and (GEnx-2B) engines.

“We consider this (AD) interim action. Root cause is still under investigation, but the failure of the (FMS) is likely due to environmentally assisted cracking; a type of corrosive cracking that is time- dependent,” said the (FAA) in its (AD).

The (NTSB) said Boeing (TBC) and (GEC) completed initial inspections on all affected engines in-service as of September 19, 2012.

The (FAA) estimates there are still 11 (GE) (GEnx) turbofan engines installed on airplanes of USA registry that need to undergo ultrasonic inspections.

Additionally, the (FAA) is calling for repetitive (UI)s for the (FMS) every 90 days “since-last-inspection.”

"We appreciate the response of both the (FAA) and (GEC) in recognizing this serious safety issue," said (NTSB) Chairman, Deborah A P Hersman. "We continue to work with all those involved in these investigations."

The (FAA) has announced a program to modernize approaches and descents to six Florida airports, including Miami and Orlando, as part of the transition to a satellite-based, NextGen (ATC) system.

Acting (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta explained the initiative at JetBlue Airways (JBL)’s training facilities in Orlando. (JBL) has partnered with the (FAA) on NextGen projects.

The Florida program is based on Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures that will enable “pilots (FC) to fly airplanes using satellite coverage or by utilizing the onboard flight management system,” according to the (FAA). “(PBN) allows shorter, more direct routes that reduce flight time and fuel consumption, and result in fewer carbon emissions.”

The (FAA) said more direct routings and tighter descents into the Florida airports “will save eight million gallons of fuel annually, which equates to a reduction in carbon emissions by nearly -80,000 metric tons and an estimated -$23 million saved in fuel costs.” The (FAA) also estimates that -5.4 million fewer nautical miles will be flown in and out of Florida.

The (FAA) said collaborators in the program include the National Air Traffic Controllers Association union, JetBlue (JBL), American Airlines (AAL), US Airways (AMW)/(USA) and NetJets (EXF). The other Florida airports involved are Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Fort Myers.

September 2012: INCDT: USA airplane safety investigators have called for grounding certain Boeing (TBC) 787s and 747-8s powered by General Electric (GEC) engines until they are inspected for cracks and also revealed that a cracked fan midshaft was discovered on a third engine last month.

The recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) offer the clearest explanation yet for the rash of zero- or low-time (GEnx) engine failures since 28 July.

The (NTSB) letter sent to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also reveals that an analysis of the fan midshaft fractures do not point to metal fatigue as a likely cause. The fan midshaft connects the low pressure turbine to the fan and booster stages at the forward end of the engine.

Instead, the cracks in the critical engine component are "typical of environmentally assisted cracking of certain high strength alloys such as that used on the (GEnx) [fan midshaft]", the (NTSB) letter says. The (NTSB) is continuing to investigate what is triggering the environmentally assisted cracking. According to (GEC), such metals crack as a result of galvanic corrosion caused by a moist environment with the presence of hydrogen.

A potential trigger of the galvanic corrosion could have been revealed earlier. (GEC) said it has changed the coating process for the fan midshaft on the production line as a result of the engine failures. (GEC) says that the new coating process changes the dry film applied to the midshaft, and replaces the lubricant used when a retaining nut is clamped to the midshaft.

The (NTSB)'s letter to the (FAA) indicates all three engine failures discovered to date could be linked to the same cause.

The latest engine failure to be revealed actually was discovered during an ultrasound inspection on 13 August, but it was not disclosed to the public until now. The ultrasound check on the engine, which was installed on a 787 that had not been flown, revealed an indication of a "similar" crack on the fan midshaft.

The first such incident occurred on 28 July. An engine on an Air India (AIN) 787 in Charleston, South Carolina, failed in a low-speed taxi test. The flight crew (FC) was accelerating the 787 through 40 kt when the low-pressure speed rolled back on the No 2 engine. The flight crew (FC) aborted the test and a visual inspection revealed the first stage of the low pressure turbine had shifted backward, colliding into trailing stages.

Six weeks later, a 747-8F operated by AirBridgeCargo (ABC) with about 1,200 flight hours and 240 cycles, experienced a similar problem. As the airplane accelerated through 50 kt, the low-pressure turbine speed of the No 1 engine dropped. The flight crew (FC) rejected the take-off and an inspection revealed "extensive damage" to the low pressure turbine.

The (NTSB) highlighted the potential safety danger of repeated failures on low-time engines. The (NTSB)'s letter highlighted the "possibility that multiple engines on the same airplane could experience a [fan midshaft] failure".

In the event of an extended twin-engine flight over water, for example, the airplane would have to operate on only a single engine for up to 5.5 hrs, the (NTSB) letter says.

In response, (GEC) says that it has already recommended repetitive inspections to the (FAA) and is close to completing ultrasonic inspections of the fan midshaft for all (GEnx) engines in service.

Boeing (TBC) adds that is working with (GEC) to inspect nine 747-8Fs within a "few days" to complete ultrasound inspections on the operational (GEnx) fleet.

No cracks were found on a 747-8F freighter GE Aviation GEnx-2B engine that experienced a power loss during takeoff roll at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, preliminary investigations show.

In an updated statement later on the continuing investigation into a separate incident involving a (GEnx-1B) engine on a 787, the USA (NTSB) confirmed it was participating in the 747-8F investigation, which is being led by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) (CAC). The 747-8F freighter was operated by AirbridgeCargo (ABC) and the incident occurred on September 11.

Attention has turned to the (GEnx)’s fan midshaft (FMS) after cracks were discovered on two (GEnx-1B) engines, but the cause of the fracture is still being established.

Examination of other pre-delivery engines revealed a second (GEnx-1B) engine with a cracked (FMS) that was installed on a 787-8 airplane that had not yet flown.

As part the (CAAC)’s investigation and in relation to the (NTSB)’s ongoing investigation of the July 28 engine failure, preliminary findings from the examination of the Shanghai incident engine revealed the (FMS) was intact and showed no indications of cracking. The examination and teardown of that engine is continuing under the direction of the (CAAC).

The USA (FAA) issued an airworthiness directive (AD) on all (GEnx) engines in light of the incidents. The (AD) requires initial and repetitive ultrasonic inspections of a particular part number (FMS). “We are issuing this (AD) to prevent failure of the (FMS) resulting in one or more engine failure(s) and possible loss of the airplane,” the (FAA) said.

The (AD) requires the (GEnx) (FMS)s be re-inspected at intervals of not more than 90 days.

October 2012: The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued a final proposal to the European Commission (EC) on pilot (FC) flight duty time and rest requirements, moving to harmonize various national regulations into one European Union (EU)-wide standard.

Pilot (FC) unions across Europe have strongly denounced the proposals, which the (EASA) just published this month. They claim the amendments put the commercial interests of airlines before passenger safety.

The (EC) needs to finalize the new rules and (EU) member states must approve the changes. If all goes smoothly, the (EASA) expects the regulations to be fully implemented by the end of 2015.

The regulations proposed by the (EASA) include a limit of 1,000 hours of flight time per 12 consecutive months and an additional limit of 110 duty hours per 14 days. Also, the (EASA) calls for flight deck crew (FC) to have “prolonged extended recovery rest periods twice per month.”

Overall, the proposed rules contain more than >30 safety improvements, the (EASA) said, adding, “Allowed duty periods at night are reduced, rest for flights with time zone crossings is significantly increased and new rules are introduced for limiting crew standby.”

(EASA) Executive Director, Patrick Goudou said, “These harmonized flight crew (FC) duty time rules are based on scientific evidence, risk assessment and best practice.” However, the European Cockpit Association (ECA), which represents more than >38,000 European pilots (FC), argues that the (EASA) proposal “disregards unanimous scientific advice and makes it legal for pilots (FC) to operate an airplane and land after having been awake for more than >22 hours.”

It said the new rules would allow pilots (FC) to land after “extremely long hours awake,” night flights of up to 12 hours (compared to a 10-hour limit determined by scientists), and evaded “stringent rules on flight schedules that disrupt sleep patterns,” such as early starts and extended open-ended standbys.

“By focusing on some marginal improvements compared to the current (EU) flight time limitations rules, the (EASA) deflects from the fact that its proposal will permit work schedules that will make pilots (FC) fly whilst being dangerously fatigued. It will be our responsibility to decline duties that are not safe,” (ECA) President, Nico Voorbach said.

British Air Line Pilots Association General Secretary, Jim McAuslan said the (EASA) proposals “will simply make it more likely that pilots (FC) will have to fly more tired more often and therefore increase the risk of a similar accident in the UK.”

The (USA) (FAA) finalized strict, new pilot (FC) duty time and rest requirements last year.

The USA (FAA) is proposing a $354,500 civil penalty against US Airways (AMW)/(USA) for allegedly operating a Boeing 757 on 916 flights when it was not in compliance with federal aviation regulations.

The (FAA) alleges US Airways (AMW)/(USA) removed and replaced a leaking engine fuel pump on the 757 on August 3, 2010, and failed to carry out (FAA)-required tests and inspections before returning the 757 to revenue service. The alleged noncompliant flights took place between August 3 and December 3, 2010.

An (AMW)/(USA) spokesperson said, “We are in the process of responding to the (FAA) and believe the flights were flown in compliance with applicable rules.” (AMW)/(USA) has 30 days to respond to the agency.

Richardson, Texas-based airplane management company, Flexjet has received conditional authorization from the (FAA) for the use of iPads as electronic flight bags (EFBs). The conditional authorization applies to fractional flights conducted under 14 CFR 91, Subpart K.

Flexjet said it will make the complete transition from paper to the iPad electronic navigational charts on its fleet of Bombardier (BMB) business jets in January. "Flexjet's interest in Electronic Flight Bags (EFB)s extends beyond the use of just navigational charts in flight. Looking to the future, our ultimate goal is to integrate a number of aspects of our offering into the device to increase productivity and eliminate costs, while improving on the already stellar customer service for which we are known,” said Deanna White, President at Flexjet.

November 2012: The (FAA) upgraded Israel’s aviation safety rating to Category 1, allowing Israeli carriers to add new flights and service to the United States and carry the code of USA carriers.

The upgraded rating comes following the (FAA)’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) review of Israel’s civil aviation authority in October. The Category 1 rating qualifies Israel as being in compliance with (ICAO) standards.

The (FAA) originally downgraded Israel to a Category 2 rating in 2008. Israel's civil aviation authority worked with the (FAA) on an action plan to bring its aviation safety oversight system to within full compliance with (ICAO) standards.

The (FAA), airlines and aviation labor unions have announced a partnership with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to share summarized safety information that could help prevent accidents.

According to the (NTSB), the information will be shared through an initiative called the Aviation Safety Information Analysis & Sharing (ASIAS) Executive Board, which will help the board determine if an accident is a unique event or an indication of systemic risks. Under (ASIAS), airlines and unions already voluntarily share safety information with the (FAA) to identify trends.

“The nation’s impressive safety record is in part due to an unwavering commitment by government and industry to work together to monitor data and identify trends to prevent accidents,” (FAA) Acting Administrator, Michael Huerta said. “More than >90% of air carriers use voluntary reporting programs and this has led to significant training, operational and maintenance program improvements.”

The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered airplane manufacturer, Airbus (RDS) to update the rudder systems on 215 of its planes because of a fatal 2001 crash, but some industry officials question the remedy, and safety experts wonder why it took so long.
The (FAA) rule was finalized almost exactly 11 years after the fiery crash of American Airlines (AAL) flight 587 in Queens, New York, on November 12, 2001. The crash occurred soon after take-off from New York's (JFK) airport, when the A300-605R's tail came apart. All 260 on the plane were killed, as were five people on the ground.

The (NT5SB) found that the plane's tail fin (the vertical stabilizer) tore off because the pilot (FC) put too much stress on the rudder by flipping it from side to side as he fishtailed in the wake of another plane. A half-dozen other flights have suffered problems with rudder movement causing high stress on tails, but without catastrophic results.

The board blamed the crash on the pilot (FC)'s "unnecessary and excessive rudder" movement, which is controlled by foot pedals. But (AAL) pilots (FC) were trained at the time to use the rudder to deal with wake turbulence, so training changed across the industry in the years after the crash. Now, the (FAA) has worked with the counterparts at the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Airbus (EDS) to install a flashing light and sound in the cockpit to warn against excessive rudder movement on A300 and A310 planes.

The (FAA) estimates the update will cost $72,720 to $107,720 per plane. Another option the (FAA) approved, which would cost $198,500 per plane, is to install equipment limiting movement of the rudder pedal.

Airbus (EDS) has warned there's "no realistic" way to design and install the pedal equipment within the four years that (FAA) has ordered. But (EDS) won (FAA) certification of its warning system in March. "Airbus (EDS) already has service bulletins available for airplane operators to incorporate this new warning system into their fleet," the (FAA) said.

(EDS) says the goal of the warnings is to stop a pilot (FC) from making the wrong movements rather than trying to minimize the consequences. A spokeswoman denies that cost came first in making decisions about safety. "We believe it is more appropriate to stop wrong inputs rather than counter them mechanically," says the spokeswoman, Mary Anne Greczyn.

(NTSB) Chairman, Deborah Hersman has said "a warning light alone will not rectify the unsafe condition." She also says "it is unfortunate" that no design changes are available for airlines for more than a decade.

Wil Angelley, a former six-year Navy pilot and now a Dallas aviation lawyer, compares the pedal device to the anti-lock brakes in a car that prevent a driver from stomping down too hard. Airlines will have to decide whether to install that as the safest course or the warning light at one-third the cost, he says. "What's a little exasperating for me is that it took 11 years," Angelley says.

The (FAA) says development of the warning system followed years of other actions from the agency, its European counterparts and the industry. Other steps included improving flight manuals, increasing training and updating (FAA) rules about misconceptions with rudder use.

Two of the plane's bigger customers, delivery companies FedEx (FED) and (UPS), each plan to comply with the rule by installing warning lights, but they disagreed about the need for the rule. "FedEx (FED) continues to believe that proper rudder control in response to wake turbulence is most effectively addressed through pilot (FC) education and training," says Maury Donahue, a spokeswoman for (FED) with 106 of the targeted planes.

(UPS), which has 53 of the planes, initially expressed concern about the cost of installing pedal equipment. But (UPS) says installing a flashing light and its software could be done within the four years that the (FAA) allows. "(UPS) Airlines places the utmost value on safety and takes regulatory compliance very seriously," says spokesman Mike Mangeot.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) also supported the rule, focusing on better rudder training for pilots (FC), while continuing to evaluate pedal sensitivity. The plane wasn't blamed in the crash because the (NTSB) found stress on the tail was almost twice as much as it was certified to endure. Airbus (EDS) had warned that "only a small amount of rudder is needed" and that "too much rudder applied too quickly or held too long" could result in "structural failure."

"The airplane was put in a position well beyond what it was designed and required by the (FAA) to do," says John Cox, a former commercial pilot (FC) who is an aviation-safety expert as President of Safety Operating Systems. "This is not a first-time event. It is not specific to Airbus (EDS)." Cox says, however, that he would like to see (FAA) safety rules developed faster.

The (NTSB) investigation of the (AAL) crash found three other incidents involving A300-600 planes and three involving A310 airplanes in which excessive stress on the tails was blamed on use of the rudder pedal. The board singled out two that featured enough rudder movement to break the tail:

-- One passenger was seriously injured in May 1997, when an (AAL) flight stalled while banking to land at Miami airport. The flight crew (FC) ultimately stabilized the flight.

-- Nobody was injured in February 1991, when a German Interflug flight aborted a landing in Moscow because of a blocked runway, then stalled repeatedly as it circled before landing safely.

December 2012: The (FAA) will introduce area navigation (RNAV) approach procedures for pilots (FC) using Portland International Airport (PDX), Oregon starting in 2013.

A collaborative effort between the (FAA), the Port of Portland and airlines created six (RNAV) approaches, which enables airplanes to fly any desired flight path within the coverage of ground or space-based navigation aids. “These new procedures in Portland are the building blocks of NextGen,” said USA Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood. “NextGen initiatives underway in major regions across the country are helping deliver more on-time flights for consumers, reducing fuel consumption for airlines and creating an even safer aviation system.”

"These procedures will continue to enhance operational safety and efficiency at this important airport while improving air quality around Portland,” said Acting (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta.


January 2013: (FAA) Acting Administrator, Michael Huerta has been confirmed by the USA Senate to head the (FAA). USA President, Barack Obama nominated Huerta to the post in March. Huerta was promoted from (FAA) Deputy Administrator to Acting Chief in December 2011 after former Administrator, Randy Babbitt resigned following an arrest on a charge of driving while intoxicated, a charge that was later dismissed by a Virginia court. Babbitt was midway through a five-year term that was not set to expire until May 2014. In October, Babbitt joined Southwest Airlines (SWA) as Senior VP Labor Relations.

Huerta will serve his own five-year term as FAA Administrato. Huerta has held various transportation-related positions in the public and private sectors, including serving as Department of Transportation Chief of Staff in the late 1990s.

Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for USA airlines, applauded the Senate’s confirmation. “Michael Huerta’s proven leadership and clear grasp of the imperatives of NextGen make him the right choice to continue leading the (FAA), and we applaud the members of the USA Senate for taking this decisive action on his confirmation,” (A4A) President & (CEO), Nicholas Calio said. “Administrator Huerta’s commitment to safety and improved efficiency of our nation’s airspace will benefit the traveling public and ensure we continue to build a more vibrant aviation industry that is so important to our nation’s economy and workforce.”

The USA (FAA) has issued a new airworthiness directive (AD) that revises inspection requirements on certain Boeing 737 Classics regarding fuselage skin cracking. The (AD) supersedes the (AD) put forward by the (FAA) in 2011 following a midair fuselage skin rupture on a Southwest Airlines (SWA) 737-300. The 2011 (AD) required repetitive inspections for fuselage skin cracking on certain 737-300/-400/-500 airplanes.

The new (AD) “adds repetitive inspections for cracking using different inspection methods and inspecting additional areas, and corrective actions if necessary,” the (FAA) said. “This new (AD) also requires additional repairs to previously repaired areas and repetitive inspections for loose fasteners and replacement, if necessary, in certain previously repaired areas.”

The (FAA) said the new (AD) “was prompted by additional reports of cracking. We are issuing this (AD) to detect and correct fatigue cracking of the fuselage skin, which could cause the fuselage skin to fracture and fail, and result in rapid decompression of the airplane.”

The (FAA) added that the new (AD), which is effective from February 6, will apply to 109 USA registered 737s.

INCDT: A fire erupted on a Japan Airlines (JAL) 787 while the airplane was parked at Boston Logan Airport.

There were no passengers aboard the airplane at the time of the January 7th incident. According to "The Boston Globe," Massachusetts Port Authority, Fire Rescue Chief, Robert Donahue said the fire occurred in the middle part of the fuselage “in the avionics compartment underneath.” He added the fire appeared to originate in a battery used by the 787’s auxiliary power unit (APU). Firefighters successfully extinguished the fire and there were no injuries, the "Globe" reported.

The USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it “has opened an investigation into a fire discovered on a Japan Airlines (JAL) 787 after it landed in Boston.”

Boeing (TBC) said it is “working with our customer” to determine what happened and will provide updates later.

The incident is the latest problem for the 787 Dreamliner program. At least three 787s (two operated by United Airlines (UAL) and one by Qatar Airways (QTA)) had electrical problems last month. In early December, the USA (FAA) issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) ordering 787 operators to inspect the airplane for “improperly assembled” engine fuel feed manifold couplings, citing a fire risk.

A fire during a November 2010 787 test flight necessitated an emergency landing and halted the 787 Dreamliner flight test program for several weeks.

Later, The USA (FAA) grounded USA operators of the 787, saying it will issue an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) to address a potential battery fire risk on the airplane. The (FAA) said all USA-registered operators of 787s must temporarily cease their Dreamliner operations. “Before further flight, operators of USA-registered, 787 airplanes must demonstrate to the (FAA) that the batteries are safe. The (FAA) will work with Boeing (TBC) and carriers to develop a corrective action plan to allow the USA 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible,” it said.

United Airlines (UAL) is the only current USA operator of the 787, with six airplanes in service. When the (FAA) issues an (AD), it also alerts the international aviation community to the action so other civil aviation authorities can take parallel action to cover the fleets operating in their own countries.

A (UAL) spokesman issued this statement: “(UAL) will immediately comply with the (AD) and will work closely with the (FAA) and Boeing (TBC) on the technical review as we work toward restoring 787 service. We will begin re-accommodating customers on alternate airplanes.”

The (FAA)’s statement added the (AD) was prompted by the January 16 in-flight All Nippon Airways (ANA) battery incident, which followed the January 7 Japan Airlines (JAL) 787 battery incident that occurred on the ground in Boston.

The statement continued: “The (AD) is prompted by this second incident involving a lithium ion battery. The battery failures resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage and smoke on two model 787 airplanes. The root cause of these failures is currently under investigation. These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment."

Earlier, the (FAA) had announced a comprehensive review of the 787’s critical systems with the possibility of further action pending new data and information. In addition to the continuing review of the airplane’s design, manufacture and assembly, the (FAA) also will validate that 787 batteries and the battery system on the airplanes are in compliance with the special condition the (FAA) issued as part of the 787’s certification.

A very short time later, all 787 operators grounded their airplanes following the (FAA)’s emergency airworthiness directive (AD); the European regulatory authority, (EASA) also adopted the (AD).

Air India (AIN), Ethiopian Airlines (ETH), (LAN) Airlines, (LOT) Polish Airlines, Qatar Airways (QTA) and United Airlines (UAL) all suspended 787 flights. All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) had already grounded their 787s after an (ANA) 787 was forced to make an emergency landing following a battery malfunction.

The (EASA) said it is working closely with the (FAA) as the primary certification authority and Boeing (TBC). “(EASA) has adopted the (FAA) (AD) in order to ensure the continuing airworthiness of the European fleet (currently two 787s operated by (LOT) Polish Airlines).

(QTA) (CEO), Akbar Al Baker said: “I previously stated that (QTA) will only stop operating our 787 Dreamliners if we receive such an instruction from the regulators. Safety remains the number one priority for (QTA). We ensure all our airplanes meet the most stringent safety standards and this will not be compromised in any way. We are actively working with Boeing (TBC) and the regulators to restore full customer confidence in the 787. “(QTA) will resume 787 operations when we are clear that the 787 meets the full requirements of the (AD) and our standards, which assure the safety of our passengers and crew at all times. So we are not flying the 787 until and only such a time this is achieved.” (QTA) has five 787s.

(ANA) confirmed that all 17 of its 787s remained suspended and it has cancelled 24 domestic flights and six international flights that were scheduled for tomorrow. (JAL) said it has made adjustments to flights originally scheduled to be operated with the 787 for the period January 19 to January 25. “During this period, the affected flights will remain as scheduled with a change in airplanes, except for the service between Narita and San Diego, which will be cancelled, and the service between Narita and Boston, which will have a set delay in departure time on certain days,” (JAL) said.

Ray LaHood said he will not serve a second term as USA Transportation Secretary. Announcing his plan to resign at the Department of Transportation (DOT) headquarters in Washington, LaHood reflected on his tenure, including the (FAA) reauthorization and progress on NextGen. “We have made unprecedented investments in our nation’s ports. And we have put aviation on a sounder footing with the (FAA) reauthorization, and secured funding in the 'Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act' to help States build and repair their roads, bridges and transit systems,” said LaHood.

“Our achievements are significant,” LaHood wrote to (DOT) workers. “We have put safety front and center [including developing] a rule to combat pilot (FC) fatigue that was decades in the making. We have strengthened consumer protections with new regulations on buses, trucks, and airlines.” He noted that under his tenure, “we have put aviation on a sounder footing with the (FAA) re-authorization.” LaHood said he told President Obama “that this is the best job I’ve ever had.” LaHood has been a consistent critic of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) and has pushed for upgrading USA air traffic control (ATC) to the satellite-based NextGen system.

LaHood will remain at the top post in the USA (DOT) for several months until the USA Senate confirms his successor.

February 2013: The All Nippon Airways (ANA) Boeing 787 lithium ion battery that failed January 16 exhibits signs of “thermal runaway,” according to Japanese investigators. Additionally, Boeing (TBC) is asking the USA (FAA) to allow it to conduct 787 test flights.

The Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) told reporters that the badly burned (ANA) 787 battery experienced an “uncontrollable high temperature” associated with thermal runaway, according to multiple reports from Tokyo. The USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has said the Japan Airlines (JAL) 787 lithium ion battery that sparked a fire in Boston January 7 similarly shows indications of thermal runaway.

The (JTSB) and (NTSB) both have been unable to determine a root cause of the lithium ion battery failures.

As part of the effort to determine what happened on the two airplanes and facilitate the process of lifting the worldwide 787 Dreamliner grounding, Boeing (TBC) is asking the (FAA) for permission to operate 787 test flights. An application for 787 test flights is “under evaluation” by the (FAA). (TBC) is not commenting further on the proposed flight testing.

The (ANA) event (involving the main battery in the forward electronic equipment bay) occurred in-flight and caused an unusual smell to permeate the airplane, prompting an emergency landing. The (JAL) 787 event (involving the battery used to start the auxiliary power unit (APU)) led to an on board fire while the airplane was parked following a Tokyo - Boston flight.

The (FAA), along with other USA government agencies, faces the imposition of mandatory budget cuts on March 1, that could lead to disruptions in air transport services.

The budget cuts (known as sequestration) could be avoided or postponed by last-minute legislation passed by Congress, but disagreements among lawmakers and between Congressional Republicans and President Barack Obama have made a near-term solution appear unlikely. “Sequestration could reduce the number of flights available and cause delays,” Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) President, Lee Moak said. “It could disrupt the maintenance on air navigation facilities and airports.” The head of the union representing 51,000 North American pilots (FC) said “a version of this” played out when the (FAA) partially shut down in 2011.

In a letter sent this month to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman, Barbara Mikulski (Democrat-Maryland), USA Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood said sequestration “would force the (FAA) to undergo an immediate retrenchment of core functions.” He added that it “will be impossible to avoid significant employee furloughs” at the (FAA). “The furlough of a large number of air traffic controllers and technicians will require a reduction in air traffic to a level that can be safely managed by the remaining staff,” LaHood wrote. In addition, he said, “some critical NextGen [(ATC) modernization] systems could be delayed for years to come.”

Moak said it should be “a no-brainer” to find a way to stop the sequester cuts. “This could impact the capacity in the [air transport] system,” he said. “That’s not good. When capacity comes down, it [negatively] affects the economy and it affects [flight] ticket prices.”

March 2013: On March 12, the (FAA) at last approved Boeing (TBC)'s certification plan for a redesigned 787 battery system, a first step toward getting the 787 Dreamliner back into the air. The (FAA) said the certification plan would begin the process to evaluate the 787’s return to flight and requires Boeing to conduct extensive testing and analysis to demonstrate compliance with the applicable safety regulations and special conditions. SEE ATTACHED - - FAA-2013-03 - 787 OK-A."

“This comprehensive series of tests will show us whether the proposed battery improvements will work as designed,” USA Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood said. The battery system improvements include a redesign of the internal battery components to minimize initiation of a short circuit within the battery, better insulation of the cells and the addition of a new containment and venting system.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes President & (CEO), Ray Conner said the proposed fix includes three layers of improvements. “First, we’ve improved design features of the battery to prevent faults from occurring and to isolate any that do. Second, we’ve enhanced production, operating and testing processes to ensure the highest levels of quality and performance of the battery and its components. Third, in the unlikely event of a battery failure, we’ve introduced a new enclosure system that will keep any level of battery overheating from affecting the airplane or being noticed by passengers.”

Design feature improvements for the battery include the addition of new thermal and electrical insulation materials and other changes. The enhanced production and testing processes include more stringent screening of battery cells prior to battery assembly. Operational improvements focus on tightening of the system’s voltage range. A key feature of the new enclosure is that it ensures that no fire can develop in the enclosure or in the battery.

The (FAA) granted Boeing permission to begin flight test activities on two airplanes: line number 86, which will conduct tests to demonstrate that the comprehensive set of solutions work as intended in flight and on the ground; and (ZA005), which is scheduled to conduct engine improvement tests unrelated to the battery issue.

The (FAA) said it will approve the redesign only if the company successfully completes all required tests and analysis to demonstrate the new design complies with (FAA) requirements.

USA Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood has given final approval for a plan to allow the Puerto Rico Port Authority to move forward with the privatization of the island’s largest airport. Under the deal, Aerostar Airport Holdings (AAH) will become the private operator of Luis Munoz Marin Airport in San Juan on a 40-year lease, with an up front payment of $615 million and $2.5 million annually going forward. The privatization deal will be complete when Puerto Rico Governor, Alejandro Garcia-Padilla signs off on the deal.

(FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta said the (FAA) has instituted a hiring freeze and will have “no choice” but to start employee furloughs in April. Citing the USA government’s budget sequestration that started last week, Huerta said the (FAA) this week is sending furlough notices to most of its 47,000 employees. Most (FAA) workers will be furloughed one day every two weeks starting next month, he said.

Huerta rejected suggestions that the (FAA) could avoid furloughs and air traffic control (ATC) service reductions. The sequestration law “limits our ability to prioritize [cuts] across the full spectrum of activities” and mandates immediate cuts “as opposed to [implementing budget reductions with] a longer lead time,” he said.

The (FAA)’s budget has to be reduced by more than >-$620 million between now and the September 30 end of the USA government’s fiscal year. Huerta said the (FAA)’s sequestration strategy is to have “minimal impact to the maximum number of travelers” by reducing services and closing facilities at the least busy airports first. But the severity of the cuts will inevitably mean flight delays at large USA airports, he explained.

“These are all terrible choices,” he said. “In order to maintain a safe system, we may need to take a penalty in terms of efficiency.”

The USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will hold the first of two Boeing 787-related public events April 11 - 12, focusing generally on lithium ion batteries in transportation. According to the (NTSB), the lithium ion battery “forum,” to be held at the board’s headquarters in Washington DC, will focus on the “the design, development and performance of lithium ion batteries; regulations and standards related to manufacturing, use and transport of the batteries; and the application and safety aspects of lithium battery technology in various transportation modes.”

The (NTSB) is continuing its investigation into the January 7 Japan Airlines 787 lithium ion battery fire in Boston. Later in April, it plans to hold a public hearing specifically focused on the design and certification of the 787’s battery system, which uses lithium ion batteries. The April 11-12 forum “will explore failure modes and other performance issues” with lithium ion batteries, the (NTSB) said. While the event will inevitably focus on the 787’s batteries, it also likely will touch on lithium batteries carried as air cargo. Two fatal freighter crashes, one involving a (UPS) 747-400 in September 2010 and another involving an Asiana Airlines (AAR) 747-400 in July 2011, have been tied to lithium battery cargo fires.

April 2013: US Airways (AMW)/(USA) has received (FAA) certification on its wide body A330 airplanes for SafeRoute, a set of four flight deck applications that will provide enhanced operational safety and efficiency in all phases of flight as part of the (FAA)’s NextGen implementation program.

(AMW)/(USA), which said it is the first airline to receive certification for the combination of all four of these applications, is in partnership with (ACSS), an L-3 Communications & Thales Company (THL). “The certified SafeRoute suite of applications from (ACSS) that (AMW)/(USA) will install on its A330s uses Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology, which provides pilots (FC) with more precise position information of the operating airplanes and other airplane traffic and is a cornerstone technology for the (FAA)’s NextGen airspace redesign program. It also includes interval management, in-trail procedures, cockpit display of traffic information to assist in visual separation and surface area movement management,” (AMW)/(USA) said.

Boeing (TBC) conducted a second 787 test flight related to the certification of its fix for the 787’s lithium ion batteries. The company said that it was the “final certification test for the new battery system.”

The April 5th flight operated with a production airplane designated for (LOT) Polish Airlines, went west from Paine Field in Everett, Washington to the Pacific coast line, flew south along the Washington state coast and then over the Oregon coast before turning around and returning to Paine Field, according to flight tracking service FlightAware. The flight lasted just under two hours.

The worldwide 787 Dreamliner fleet has been grounded since January 16 following the failure and overheating of lithium ion batteries on two in-service 787s within a 10-day period. Boeing (TBC) is endeavoring to convince the (FAA) that its fix for the battery system should enable the lifting of the grounding.

Boeing (TBC) said it has now completed “the testing required by” the (FAA). “The flight crew (FC) reported that the certification demonstration plan was straightforward and the flight was uneventful,” Boeing (TBC) said following Friday’s flight, adding, “Boeing will now gather and analyze the data and submit the required materials to the (FAA). We expect to deliver all of the materials to the (FAA) in the coming days. Once we deliver the materials, we stand ready to reply to additional requests and continue in dialog with the (FAA) to ensure we have met all of their expectations.”

The (FAA) issued an airworthiness directive (AD) April 15 regarding a possible problem with 737NG horizontal stabilizer parts. The (FAA) has ordered more than >1,000 737 jets registered in the United States to be inspected for a potentially faulty part in the tail fin that could cause pilots (FC) to lose control of the plane if it fails.

The (FAA) reported: "We are adopting a new Airworthiness Directive (AD) for all Boeing Company 737-600, 737-700, 737-700C, 737-800, 737-900, and 737-900ER series airplanes. This (AD) was prompted by reports of an incorrect procedure used to apply the wear and corrosion protective surface coating to attach pins of the horizontal stabilizer rear spar. This (AD) requires inspecting to determine the part number of the attach pins of the horizontal stabilizer rear spar, and replacing certain attach pins with new, improved attach pins. We are issuing this (AD) to prevent premature failure of the attach pins, which could cause reduced structural integrity of the horizontal stabilizer to fuselage attachment, resulting in loss of control of the airplane.

The concerns particularly regard new and very popular versions of the airplanes. The inspections are not expected to affect airline schedules. Airlines have to inspect and change their 737s as needed with the affected part by May 20.

This new (AD) for next-generation Boeing 737 airplanes could cost USA-based operators up to $10.1 million. The (AD) applies to 737-600, 737-700, 737-700C, 737-800, 737-900 and 737-900ERs after the (FAA) found that protective coatings for wear and corrosion were incorrectly applied to the airplane family's horizontal stabilizer rear spar. Premature failure of the attach pins could cause reduced structural integrity of the horizontal stabilizer to fuselage attachment, resulting in a loss of control of the airplane, according to the (AD).

The inspection and replacement of the attach pins is estimated to cost $9,267 per airplane, or a total of $10.1 million for the 1,050 airplanes in the USA registry that are affected by the (AD).

The (FAA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding the (AD) in September 2012, and the (AD) becomes effective May 20.

Boeing told the (FAA) that some of the costs associated with the repairs could be covered under warranty.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a proposed (AD) April 15 signaling approval of modifications for A380 wing rib feet aimed at solving the A380s’ wing cracking issue.

The (FAA) on April 19th approved Boeing (TBC)’s design for modifications to the 787 battery system, a key hurdle in returning the planes to service after they were grounded globally. Airlines operating the 787 will be required to install containment and venting systems and to replace batteries with modified components. The (FAA) said it will only allow 787s to return to service after inspectors accept the work.

Boeing (TBC) is deploying 10 teams comprised of 300 specialists around the world to perform (FAA)-approved modifications on the 50 787s that were in service when the 787 Dreamliner fleet was grounded January 16.

The (FAA) has proposed a $4 million civil penalty against United Parcel Service (UPS) for allegedly failing to follow (FAA)-approved procedures for making structural repairs to two DC-8F freighter airplanes and two MD-11Fs.

The (FAA) said (UPS)’s Louisville, Kentucky-based (UPS) Airlines unit operated the four airplanes on more than >400 flights between October 2008 and June 2009 “when they were not in compliance” with federal aviation regulations. (UPS) called the proposed penalty “unwarranted.”

The (FAA) said, “These violations stem from (UPS)’s failure to fully comply with the terms of a consent agreement in which (UPS) agreed to inspect all airplanes in its fleet and compare actual repairs with maintenance records. This would have ensured the four airplanes were in compliance with the regulations.”

(UPS) Airlines spokesman, Mike Mangeot said, “(UPS) has a long history of operating a safe, compliant airline. The proposed (FAA) penalty related to the documentation of nine repairs on four airplanes is unwarranted and unreasonable. There was never a safety issue. We believe we were compliant with (FAA) rules and will vigorously defend our position.” (UPS) has 30 days to respond to the (FAA).

May 2013: American Airlines (AAL) and three subsidiaries have agreed to pay $24.9 million to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to settle more than >$162 million in claims that the (FAA) had lodged against the company.

The $24 million claim against (AAL) alone is the largest (FAA) penalty against a single carrier. The agreement covers alleged violations of (FAA) regulations by (AAL), American Eagle Airlines, Executive Airlines and Eagle Aviation Services. All the alleged violations occurred before the November 29, 2011, bankruptcy filing by parent (AMR), (AAL) and their various subsidiaries.

“This settlement recognizes the many changes, including enhancements to our Maintenance and Engineering processes, increased training, inspections, and audits that have taken place at (AAL) over the past several years that address past (FAA) concerns.

The largest part of the settlement covers the March - April 2008 debacle in which (AAL) was forced to ground its MD-80 fleet. Inspections found that (AAL)’s mechanics (MT) had not performed modifications as required by a 2006 airworthiness directive (AD).

(AAL) and other airlines operating MD-80s faced an early March 2008 deadline to modify some wiring harnesses. In inspections done later in March, the (FAA) found that almost all of (AAL)’s MD-80s that it inspected did not have the work done properly. In some cases, airplanes that were modified a second time still did not meet the requirements of the 2006 (AD).

In August 2010, the (FAA) proposed a $24.2 million fine against (AAL) because of the MD-80 issues. However, (AAL) appealed the proposed penalty.

An (FAA) spokesman confirmed that the proposed settlement covers that situation and fine. The settlement still must be approved by USA Bankruptcy Judge, Sean Lane, since the penalties will become claims in bankruptcy court, along with those filed by other creditors and claimholders.

(AAL)’s proposed plan of reorganization, filed in April, would give those stakeholders a full recovery of their claims.

On July 12, 2012, the (FAA) filed bankruptcy claims totaling $162.4 million based on potential penalties for alleged safety violations.
That included 36 actions against (AAL), with potential fines of $156.6 million; 49 cases against American Eagle, $5.3 million; four cases against Executive Airlines, $629,500; and one against Eagle Aviation, $17,875.

The settlement provides that the (FAA) will hold $24 million in claims against (AAL), $800,000 against American Eagle Airlines, $95,000 against Executive Airlines and $5,000 against Eagle Aviation. American Eagle Airlines and Executive Airlines both provide connecting service to (AAL) under the American Eagle brand.

The agreement also provides that $4.7 million owed (AAL) by the US Postal Service and the US Department of Defense will be credited against the $24 million, leaving $19.3 million in (FAA) claims against (AAL).

In a motion, (AAL) and the other subsidiaries filed with the bankruptcy court seeking approval of the settlement, the companies called it “a reasonable resolution of approximately $162 million of claims asserted by the (FAA).”

In the settlement, (AAL) and the other companies said they “do not admit any wrongdoing,” but have agreed to the compromise to avoid the costs and uncertainties of litigation that the (FAA) might have instituted against them.

The agreement recognizes many steps (AAL) has taken to improve its maintenance training, procedures, oversight and cooperation with the (FAA), and the deal commits (AAL) to take further steps to advance the quality of its maintenance operations. (AAL) “has incurred substantial costs in initiating and/or accelerating the safety and regulatory compliance initiatives that [AAL] and the (FAA) both agree demonstrate an improved compliance culture and improved processes for maintenance oversight,” the settlement states.

The (FAA) estimated that the safety improvements made by (AAL) are valued at more than >$50 million.

General Electric Conpany (GEC) and the Boeing Company (TBC) have alerted airlines about a potential problem with engines on Boeing (TBC)’s long-range 777 jumbo jet that caused the engines to shut in mid-flight twice this year. The problem affects about 118 so-called transfer gear boxes made between September and March. The part, made by Italian company Avio SpA, are on about 26 in service 777-300ER jets and another 44 airplanes in production, (GEc) said.

There are more than >1,150 of the (GE90-115B) engines in service and the gearbox has been a reliable part for more than >15 years, (GEC) said. The cause of the problem appears to be with an anomaly in the material that caused gears to separate, although the exact cause remains unknown, (GEC) said.

The companies told airlines to inspect or replace the transfer gear boxes produced during the six-month period, ensuring that at least one engine on the plane has had an inspection or a replacement made before September. (GEC) is sending replacement parts to airlines.

The gearbox transfers power from the engine to run fuel pumps and other vital engine functions, (GEC) said. Failure causes the engine to shut down. The incidents in which engines shut down during flight occurred in February and on May 9, (GEC) said. One of the incidents occurred on an Air China (BEJ) plane. The other could not immediately be identified.

In both cases, only one engine shut down, and the twin-engine 777 is able to continue flight with the remaining engine. “You don’t have a fire, you don’t have an explosion,” when the gearbox fails, said Rick Kennedy, a (GEC) spokesman. While the cause of the failures remains unknown, the (FAA) is expected to make the inspections mandatory through an Airworthiness Directive (AD).

July 2013: ACCDT: 777-28EER (PW4090) (553-291717, /06 HL7742) crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on Saturday, July 6th. Two passengers were confirmed dead (a third died later), and more than >180 suffered injuries, and at least five of those hospitalized were in critical condition. The impact ripped off the airplane's wheels, tail and engines resulting in a severe fire in the fuselage above the wings and forward including the cockpit.


A US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) “preliminary review” of Asiana Airlines Flight 214’s cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR) has revealed that the 777-200ER approached San Francisco International Airport (SFO) too slowly.

Just before 11:30 am San Francisco time, July 6, the 777 came down short of (SFO) runway 28L; the rear of the airplane apparently hit a sea wall. Most of the 307 passengers and crew aboard were able to safely evacuate after the 777 came to a stop completely off the runway with its tail section detached. After it was on the ground, the 777 was engulfed in flames, significantly damaging the fuselage and the passenger cabin, but there does not appear to have been passengers and crew still on board during the worst of the fire.

(NTSB) Chairwoman, Deborah Hersman said that there was “good data” from the (CVR) and (FDR). According to the data, the Asiana (AAR) 777, en route from Seoul Incheon International Airport, was cleared by air traffic control for a visual approach to runway 28L and all seemed normal. “The airplane was configured for approach with the flaps at 30 degrees and the [landing] gear down,” Hersman said. “The target speed for the approach was 137 knots. The approach proceeds normally as they descend.” However, “the speed was significantly below 137 knots, and we’re not talking about [being too slow by] a few knots,” she said. Hersman clarified that the airplane speed was just 103 knots at the time of impact.

The pilots (FC) identified that the airplane was going too slowly seven seconds before impact, Hersman said, noting that one of the crew members “made a call to increase speed.” The sound of a stick shaker is heard on the (CVR) four seconds before impact, indicating an imminent stall, Hersman said. There was then “a call to initiate a go-around 1.5 seconds before impact,” she added.

The (FDR) indicated that “the throttles were advanced a few seconds prior to impact and the Pratt & Whitney (PW4090) engines appeared to have responded normally,” Hersman said. “Both of the engines were producing power at the time of impact” and there is no evidence of problems with the engines.

The 777-200ER involved in the accident had accumulated 36,000 flight hours and 5,000 cycles.

The following report is from the "Aviation Herald" by Simon Hradecky, created Saturday, July 6th, 2013 19:35Z; last updated Tuesday, July 9th 2013 22:58Z.

An Asiana Airlines (AAR) 777-28EER (PW4090) (553-29171, /06 HL7442), performing flight OZ-214 from Seoul (South Korea) to San Francisco, California, USA with 291 passengers and 16 crew ((FC) - (CA)), touched down short of runway 28L impacting the edge separating the runway from the San Francisco Bay, 115 meters/375 feet ahead of the runway threshold, while landing on San Francisco's runway 28L at 11:27L (18:27Z). The tail plane, gear and engines separated, the airplane came to a rest left of the runway about 490 meters/1600 feet past the runway threshold. Following first impact at a high angle of pitch, the airplane lost gear and tail section, skidded along the runway, pitched up to about 45 degrees, the left wing entangled with the ground, sending the airplane into a spin and separating the engines. The airplane turned around counter-clockwise by nearly 360 degrees with the nose coming down again and stopped, burst into flames and burned out. 305 occupants were able to evacuate the airplane in time and are alive. 2 people were confirmed killed in the accident (plus one other later), 10 people were in critical condition, 38 more were in hospital care with injuries of lesser degrees, and 82 occupants received minor injuries. The majority of survivors escaped without injuries.

(AAR) confirmed their airplane suffered an accident while landing in San Francisco, and that there were 291 passengers and 16 crew ((FC) & (CA)) on board.

The city of San Francisco and Emergency Services in a joint press conference, reported that emergency services responded post landing, and that 48 people were transported to hospitals, 190 passengers were collected and taken to the terminal, 82 of whom are probably going to be tranferred to hospitals, and that there were some people unaccounted for. The 777 carried 291 passengers and 16 crew, with a total 307 people on board. There were three fatalities.

The airport was completely closed for about 5 hours, then runways 01L/19R and 01R/19L reopened, while both runways 10/28 remained closed.

Air Traffic Control (ATC) recordings showed the 777 was on a normal approach and was cleared to land on runway 28L, no emergency services were lined up, and all traffic was running normally. During a transmission of the (ATC) tower, shouting in the back of the tower was heard, emergency services began to respond, and all airplanes on approach were instructed to go around. The airport was closed. United (UAL) flight 885, waiting for departure at the hold short line threshold 28L, reported people were walking around both runways. There were a number of people near the numbers of runway 28R, who were obviously survivors.

An observer on the ground reported that the approach of the (AAR) 777 looked normal at first, but at about 5 seconds prior to impact, the 777 began to look low and then impacted the sea wall ahead of the runway.

On July 7th, the (NTSB) reported in a press conference at San Francisco Airport, the flight crew (FC) were cleared for a visual approach to runway 28L. The flight crew (FC) acknowledged, flaps were set at 30 degrees, gear was down, Vapp was 137 knots, a normal approach commenced, no anomalies or concerns were raised within the cockpit, and 7 seconds prior to impact, a crew (FC) member called for speed; 4 seconds prior to impact, the stick shaker activated, a call to go-around, which happened 1.5 seconds prior to impact. This data was based on a first read out of the cockpit voice recorder (CVR). According to the flight data recorder (FDR), the throttles were at idle, the speed significantly decayed below target of 137 knots (the exact value was not yet determined), the thrust levers were advanced and the engines appeared to respond normally. The (NTSB) confirmed the (PAPI)s runway 28L were available to the approaching airplanes before the accident, however, they were damaged in the accident and thus went out of service again. The localizer was available, the glide slope was out of service, and according (NOTAM)s were in effect. There were no reports of wind shear and no adverse weather conditions. The air traffic controller was operating normal, no anomaly was effective, until the controller noticed the airplane had hit the sea wall. The controller declared an emergency for the airplane and initiated emergency response. The Korean (ARAIB) and Asiana (AAR) personnel arrived on the scene and joined the investigation. The Mayor of San Francisco reported runway 10L/28R was cleared for service.

The (NTSB) reported the pilots (FC)'s flight bags and charts were located, and the proper (approach) charts for San Francisco Airport were in place in the cockpit. There were 4 pilots (FC) on board of the 777. They were interviewed on July 8th to determine who was the pilot (FC) flying and who was in command at the time of the approach. The cockpit was documented and the switch positions identified. Both engines were delivering power at the time of impact, consistent with the flight data recordings. The right hand engine, found adjacent to the fuselage showed evidence of high rotation at impact, the left hand engine separated from the airplane also showed high rotation at impact. The 777 joined a 17nm final, the crew (FC) reported the runway in sight, before being handed off to the tower. The autopilot was disconnected at 1600 feet, 82 seconds prior to impact. The airplane descended through 1400 feet at 170 KIAS 73 seconds prior to impact, descended through 1000 feet at 149 KIAS 54 seconds, 500 feet at 134 KIAS 34 seconds, 200 feet at 118 KIAS 16 seconds prior to impact. At 125 feet and 112 KIAS, the thrust levers were advanced and the engines began to spool up 8 seconds prior to impact. The airplane reached a minimum speed of 103 KIAS 3 seconds prior to impact, the engines were accelerating through 50% engine power at that point, and accelerated to 106 knots. The vertical profile needs to be assessed first. There was debris from the sea wall thrown several hundred feet towards the runway, and part of the tail cone was in the sea wall. A significant portion of the tail was ahead of the sea wall in the water.

On July 9th 2013, the (NTSB) reported in their third press conference based on pilot (FC) interviews, that at 500 feet (AGL) the (PAPI)s were showing three red, one white, and the pilot (FC) began to pull back on the yoke to reduce rate of descent, assuming the auto-throttles would maintain the speed set to 137 knots. A lateral deviation developed taking the attention of the crew (FC). Descending through 200 feet, all PAPIs were red and the speed had decayed into the red/black marked range. The crew (FC) realized the auto-throttles were not maintaining the target speed, and at that point, the auto-throttles started to move the levers forward. There were three pilots (FC) in the cockpit. The captain under supervision was pilot (FC) flying, occupying the left hand seat, the training captain was pilot (FC) monitoring, occupying the right hand seat, and the relief first officer (FC) was occupying the observer seat. The other relief captain was in the cabin at the time of the landing. The captain under supervision had 9,700 hours total flying experience, had flown 10 legs for a total of 35 hours on the 777-200 and so far was about half way through his supervision. The training captain was on his first flight as training captain. The two pilots (FC) had never flown together before. The auto-throttle switches were found in the armed position post accident. It is not yet clear in what mode the auto-throttles were and whether auto-throttles were engaged or not. Two flight attendants (CA) in the aft cabin were ejected from the airplane during the accident sequence and were later found up and aside of the runway with injuries. At least one of the escape slides inflated inside the cabin.

On July 8th 2013, South Korea's Ministry of Transport reported the captain (43, (ATPL), 9,793 hours total) of the ill-fated flight was still under supervision doing his first landing into San Francisco on a 777, although he had 29 landings into San Francisco on other airplane types before. He was supervised by a training captain with 3,220 hours on the 777, and all responsibilities were with the training captain.

The pilot (FC) in command of Asiana Airlines (AAR) Flight 214, involving the 777-200ER that crashed on landing at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) July 6, told investigators that he assumed the airplane’s auto-throttles were engaged and maintaining a speed of 137 knots as the 777 came in for a landing. The airplane’s speed dropped to just 103 knots at the time of impact.

The commanding pilot (FC) was one of three pilots (FC) in the cockpit at the time of the crash, sitting in the right seat. He was serving as an instructor for the pilot (FC) flying the airplane, sitting in the left seat, who was in the midst of training on the 777 after serving for eight years as an Airbus A320 captain for Asiana (AAR).
“At about 500 feet, [the commanding pilot] realized they were low,” US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairwoman, Deborah Hersman said at a Tuesday news conference in San Francisco. “He told the [flying] pilot (FC) to pull back.”

The commanding pilot (FC) told the (NTSB) he realized a go-around was necessary and noted the flying pilot (FC) had already pushed the throttles forward. But it was too late; the airplane’s main landing gear was the first to impact (SFO)’s sea wall as the 777 came down short of runway 28L, Hersman said. The tail section then hit the sea wall. The airplane “went into a 360 degree spin,” she added.

The pilot (FC) at the controls of Asiana Airlines (AAR) Flight 214 has reported seeing a blinding flash of light during the 777-200ER’s descent into (SFO). It is unclear what factor, if any, the reported flash of light played in the July 6 crash-landing that killed two passengers. The detail about the flash of light comes as more information emerges about the 777’s descent into (SFO) and the immediate aftermath of the crash. USA (NTSB) Chairwoman, Deborah Hersman said the pilot (FC) sitting in the left seat and controlling the airplane, Gang-Guk Lee, reported seeing the flash of light when the 777 was at about 500 feet, which was about 34 seconds before the 777’s main landing gear hit (SFO)’s sea wall. “We really don’t know what it could have been,” Hersman said. “We need to look into it. We need to understand what he is talking about.” She added that the pilot (FC) told investigators he wasn't sure what the bright light was and that it could have been a reflection of the sun. Gang-Guk Lee also told the (NTSB) he did not think the light affected his vision.

While the pilots (FC) did not realize the 777 had slowed to a dangerously low speed until just seconds before impact, there were signs during the descent that something was amiss. Jeong-Min Lee, the pilot (FC) in command, who was sitting in the right seat and acting as a 777 instructor to Gang-Guk Lee (a veteran pilot (FC) in the midst of transitioning to the aircraft type) has told investigators that the 777 was “slightly high when they passed 4,000 feet,” Hersman said.

Then at about 500 feet (the same time the pilot (FC) in control reported seeing the flash of light) Jeong-Min Lee “realized they were low,” Hersman said. However, it was only seconds before impact when the pilots realized the speed had fallen from the target speed of 137 knots to just 103 knots. The 777 was attempting to land on (SFO) runway 28L.

Jeong-Min Lee has told investigators he thought the auto-throttles were engaged and maintaining speed. Hersman said the (NTSB) has determined that “multiple autopilot modes and multiple auto-throttle modes” were engaged in the last two-and-a-half minutes of the flight. Investigators don’t know if this was intentional or inadvertent, she added.

Hersman said the (NTSB) has interviewed six of Asiana Flight 214’s 12 flight attendants (CA); five flight attendants (CA) remain hospitalized. According to Hersman, three flight attendants (CA) sitting at the rear of the 777 were ejected from the airplane during the crash.

Once the airplane came to a stop, evacuation did not immediately begin because the pilots (FC) in the cockpit were not aware the airplane was on fire. Hersman said a flight attendant (CA) informed the pilots (FC) of the fire and the evacuation began.

According to Hersman, 90 seconds after the airplane came to a stop, the first two doors were opened and passengers began evacuating down slides. Hersman said flight attendants (CA) and pilots (FC) were involved in fighting the fire as the evacuation took place.

The first emergency response vehicle arrived on the scene two minutes after the 777 came to a stop. The first fire extinguishing agent was applied three minutes after the airplane came to a stop.

Clean up of the 777 crash site at (SFO) got underway following the (NTSB) releasing the site late Wednesday July 10th.

Asiana Airlines (AAR) may take a charge of at least 20 billion won/$18 million from the crash of its plane in San Francisco, and that will push South Korea’s second-largest carrier to a loss this year, five analysts said. Insurance payment won’t cover the loss of airplane, litigation and other charges and an erosion in passenger numbers after the crash of the 777 airplane. The loss estimate contrasts with a projected +20.8 billion won profit, according to the average of 18 analyst forecasts compiled by "Bloomberg." “A loss is inevitable this year because of the crash.”

Asiana (AAR)’s reputation as one of the top carriers for service (honed over a quarter century since its formation in the run-up to the 1988 Seoul Olympics) is in jeopardy after (AAR)’s second crash since 2011. Earnings will be crimped by rising litigation and insurance costs, and (AAR)’s training regimen will probably come under scrutiny as USA investigators probe why pilots (FC) didn’t react to a critical loss of airspeed until moments before the plane crashed into a seawall.

All but three of the 307 people on board survived the July 6 crash-landing, with at least 26 still hospitalized. It was the first fatal accident in the USA of a large jet since 2001.

Capacity at Asiana (AAR), with 69 passenger planes in a total fleet of 80, may drop by -1.9% this year, said Park Eun Kyung, an analyst at Samsung Securities Company in Seoul. The loss in seats and traffic may erode sales by -70 billion won and that could have a bigger impact on operating profit, she said. Asiana (AAR) is expected to recognize the loss from the airplane in the third quarter, which will be bigger than her pre-tax profit forecast of +15 billion won. “Insurance premiums are likely to increase, especially with the crash taking place soon after the cargo plane crash in 2011,” Park said.

Asiana (AAR)’s previous disaster was the crash of its cargo freighter in the sea, south of Jeju island in July 2011. It caused 200.4 billion won of damage, (AAR) said then. The 747-400 airplane was carrying two flight crew (FC) members and 58 tons of cargo to Shanghai from Incheon International Airport.

USA Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General, Calvin Scovel said the (FAA)’s progress in implementing the satellite-based NextGen air traffic control (ATC) system “has not met the expectations of Congress and industry.

The (FAA)' latest runway safety enhancement, runway status lights, have become operational at Washington Dulles International Airport.
The new system, which came into use on July 25th, uses a series of colored lights embedded into the runway and taxiways to help prevent incursions. It offers pilots (FC) and vehicle operators a simple visual system to determine whether it is safe to cross or enter a runway. The (FAA) plans to install these light systems at 23 USA airports by the end of the year - - SEE ATTACHED - - "FAA-2013-10 - RUNWAY TAXIWAY LIGHTS."

August 2013: The (FAA) recently began initial deployment of a new time-based air traffic metering tool at all 20 en route air traffic control (ATC) centers across the United States, the Time-Based Flow Management (TBFM) system, which is designed to improve the flow of aircraft within congested airspace.

The (TBFM), which will replace the Traffic Management Advisor (TMA) system, uses time-based scheduling to give controllers better predictability on airspace use, helping to optimize the traffic stream of airplanes into capacity-constrained areas. The system was produced by Lockheed Martin, as part of a 10-year, $202 million contract awarded in 2010.

The (FAA) predicts the new tool will yield a -2% reduction in airborne delays for metered flights when airports are at greater than >70% capacity, and a -5% reduction in ground delays for metered flights that are subjected to Miles-In-Trail restrictions during periods of high volume at destination airports.

"(TBFM) also relaxes some rigidness in the arrival slot calculations that was resulting in unused slots. This technology will also start to share arrival data with the Traffic Flow Management System (TFMS) which will help increase the accuracy of its trajectory predictions," said Paul Takemoto, a spokesperson for the (FAA).

Additionally, through 2022 with the (TBFM) system, airlines are projected to save $88 million in airline direct operating costs (ADOC), $76 million in passenger value of time (PVT) savings, and $85 million in cost avoidance savings to the (FAA) itself.

The system's Integrated Departure/Arrival Capability (IDAC) component automates the coordination and management of airplane departures over shared and congested segments of airspace.

During the en route phase, (TBFM) adds additional metering points further out from arrival airports, allowing controllers to provide earlier integration of arriving flights. "Adjustable settings within the (TBFM) platform allow Traffic Management Coordinators (TMCs) to dynamically set parameters that consider airport/runway configurations, airplane engine type, airplane weight class, separation matrices, airport arrival rate and more refined mile-in-trail settings if necessary," said Steve Lee, the National Air Traffic Controller Association's (NATCA) article 48 representative for (TBFM).

Lee, who is also a controller at the Boston en route center, said (TBFM) has not "fundamentally changed the operational functionality that resided in (TMA)," but that it was more of a hardware replacement for equipment that had reached the end of its lifecycle.

One major change that Lee did note though, was the air traffic control (ATC) computers' software operating system conversion from Solaris to Linux, a change that will allow for next generation functional enhancements of the system.

As more controllers are trained and more deployment occurs beyond en route centers, (TBFM) will interface with NextGen's System Wide Information Management (SWIM) component, though it is too soon to say precisely how that integration will occur, according to Lee.

Lockheed partnered with Metron Aviation and Saab Sensis Corporation to produce the new system.

Future deployment of (TBFM) is planned for air traffic control (ATC) towers located at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Baltimore Washington International Airport and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

September 2013: Under the auspices of its International Aviation Safety Assessments (IASA) program, the (FAA) has upgraded Ukraine’s safety rating to Category 1 from Category 2. The new rating means that Ukraine now complies with international safety standards set by (ICAO), based on the results of a July (FAA) review of Ukraine’s Civil Aviation Authority.

Ukraine was rated Category 2 by the (FAA) in 2005, meaning that it either lacked laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its Civil Aviation Authority was deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping or inspection procedures. The airlines of a Category 2 rated country can maintain existing services to the USA, but are barred from launching new services.

Since 2005, Ukraine’s Civil Aviation Authority has been working with the (FAA) on an action plan to ensure its safety oversight system fully complies with (ICAO)’s standards and practices. The new Category 1 rating indicates that that has been achieved and as a result the country’s airlines can add flights and service to the USA and carry the code of USA carriers. Ukraine currently does not provide service to the USA.

As part of its (IASA) program, the (FAA) assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that operate or have applied to fly to the USA and makes that information available to the public. The assessments determine whether or not foreign Civil Aviation Authorities are meeting (ICAO) safety standards, not (FAA) regulations.

JetBlue Airways (JBL) (COO), Rob Maruster said the (FAA) has a “credibility” problem regarding the implementation of the satellite-based NextGen air traffic control (ATC) system, leading to a loss of confidence among USA airlines.

The FAA has selected a team of universities to lead a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence (COE) for alternate jet fuels and the environment. Led by Washington State University (WSU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the (COE) will explore ways to meet the environmental and energy goals that are part of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).

USA Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx said the “innovative partnership supports President Obama’s national plan to address climate change. The Center of Excellence will tap talented universities to help us take environmentally friendly, alternative jet fuel technology to the next level.”

The (FAA) said core team partners include Boston University, Oregon State University (OSU), Purdue University, the University of Dayton, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington (UW), Missouri University of Science & Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, the University of Hawaii, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Tennessee.

Research and development efforts by the team will focus on NextGen environmental goals for noise, air quality, climate change and energy. Areas of study will include new airplane technologies and sustainable alternative aviation jet fuels.

The (FAA) anticipates providing this (COE) with $4 million a year for each of the 10 years of the program.

As a follow-up to the July 12 fire in a parked and unoccupied Ethiopian Airlines (ETH) 787-8 at London Heathrow Airport, the (FAA) issued a final rule and airworthiness directive (AD) for USA airlines to inspect 3,832 Honeywell (SGC) emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) installed on USA airplanes.

The (AD), which becomes effective October 3, “requires various one-time general visual inspections of the (ELT) transmitter units (TU)s, and corrective actions if necessary,” according to the (FAA) (AD).

USA air carriers have 120 days to comply with the order, which the (FAA) acknowledges is “unusually long for an immediately adopted rule.” Based on the large number of affected (ELT)s, the (FAA) is granting an extra compliance window “to avoid unnecessarily disrupting flight schedules.”

An earlier (FAA) (AD) from July 26 had ordered the inspection of (ELT)s specifically for 787-8 Dreamliners.

The order comes in the wake of the August 15 (AD) by Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) for Canadian airlines to inspect their airplane’s (ELT)s. The Canadian (AD) was issued as “a precautionary measure to address the possibility of a fire due to wiring installation discrepancies of either the (ELT) (TU) or the (ELT) Battery.”

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued its own mandate for inspection of the Honeywell (ELT)s on all affected European airplanes on August 21.

Following the initial blaze, the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), looked into the cause of the incident and, according to the (TCCA), released preliminary findings indicating “there was combustion in the area of the (ELT) (TU). Subsequent to the fire event, inspection of in-service (ELT) (TU)s revealed battery wiring installation discrepancies inside the (TU) that may result in an electrical short. The (AAIB) noted that in case of an electrical short, the (ELT) battery could provide the energy for an ignition.”

The (FAA) estimates the inspection of each (ELT) will take one hour, at an estimated expense of $85 an hour, costing USA operators $325,720 total (not including the cost of potential repairs and/or removal of a malfunctioning (TU)).

Manufacturers affected by and specifically mentioned in the (FAA) (AD) include Boeing (TBC), Lockheed Martin, Airbus (EDS), (ATR) and Dassault Aviation.

The (FAA) is proposing a new airworthiness directive (AD) for the replacement of certain older Honeywell (SGC) cockpit displays on 737 and 777 family airplanes due to their vulnerability to Wi-Fi interference. The (FAA) said the Honeywell (SGC) phase 3 display units (DU) are susceptible to radio frequency emissions in Wi-Fi frequency bands at "radiated power levels below the level that the displays are required to tolerate for certification of Wi-Fi system installations."

During testing of the phase 3 (DU)s on 737 series airplanes, the displays went blank for as long as 6 minutes when subjected to Wi-Fi frequencies. If the systems were to go blank during takeoffs and landings, it could result in the flight crew (FC)'s loss of control of the airplane at altitudes insufficient for recovery, the (FAA) said. The displays provide flight critical information such as airspeed, altitude and heading.

The proposal was filed during the same week that an (FAA) advisory panel is meeting to complete recommendations on expanding the in-flight use of personal electronic devices (PED) by passengers connecting to the Internet through onboard Wi-Fi systems. The (FAA) is recommending affected operators replace the existing phase 3 (DU)s with new phase 3A (DU)s and installation of new (DU) database software.

According to the (FAA), the (AD) affects 157 airplanes, with a total cost of retrofitting the planes with new displays at $1.6 million, or about $20,000 per plane.

October 2013: The (FAA) has decided to allow airline passengers to use portable electronic devices (PEDs) (including being online via Wi-Fi) “during all phases of flight.” The new ruling does not permit cell phone voice communications. “Due to differences among fleets and operations, the implementation will vary among airlines, but the (FAA) expects many carriers will prove to the FAA that their planes allow passengers to safely use their devices in airplane mode, gate-to-gate, by the end of the year.” The continuing prohibition on in-flight voice communications is based on USA Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations “that prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones,” the (FAA) noted.

Delta Air Lines (DAL) and JetBlue Airways (JBL) moved quickly to file (PED)-usage plans with the (FAA). “All (DAL) airplanes have completed carrier-defined (PED) tolerance testing to ensure the safe operation of passenger portable electronic devices during all phases of flight and (DAL)’s plan has been submitted to the (FAA) for approval,” adding that “more than >570 mainline domestic airplanes stand ready to allow customer use of e-readers, tablets and smartphones, all in airplane mode, during taxi, takeoff and landing on domestic flights. Delta Connection’s more than >550 regional airplanes will be ready by the end of the year.”

JetBlue (JBL) (CCO), Robin Hayes said, “The rules have caught up with today’s technology. This new policy vastly improves our customers’ experience, and giving everyone a chance to be more connected is good for business. We intend to be the first commercial airline in the United States to allow gate-to-gate use of personal electronics devices.”

The (FAA) concluded that using (PED)s during flight largely does not present a safety issue, though it cautioned, “In some instances of low visibility (about 1% of flights) some landing systems may not be proved (PED) tolerant, so [passengers] may be asked to turn off [their] device.”

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) union warned, “While we applaud the (FAA)’s view that (PED) use must be shown to be safe before being allowed, we remain concerned that relying on passengers to selectively turn off their devices in areas of extremely poor weather is not a practical solution. We urge passengers to realize the potential seriousness of using a device at a time when any crewmember (pilot (FC) or flight attendant (CA)) has advised them that it is unsafe to do so.”

The (FAA) said it based its decision to revise (PED) rules “on input from a group of experts that included representatives from the airlines, aviation manufacturers, passengers, pilots (FC), flight attendants (CA), and the mobile technology industry.”

The (FAA)’s decision means “passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions,” the (FAA) said, adding, “Cell phones should be in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled. If your air carrier provides Wi-Fi service during flight, you may use those services. You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.”

USA Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx stated, “We believe today’s decision honors both our commitment to safety and consumers’ increasing desire to use their electronic devices during all phases of their flights.” (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta added, “I commend the dedication and excellent work of all the experts who spent the past year working together to give us a solid report, so we can now move forward with a safety-based decision on when passengers can use (PED)s on airplanes.”

The (FAA) emphasized that “each airline will determine how and when they will allow passengers broader use of (PED)s. Current (PED) policies remain in effect until an airline completes a safety assessment, gets (FAA) approval, and changes its (PED) policy.”

The (FAA) said it did not consider changing regulations regarding cell phone voice communications during flight “because the issue is under the jurisdiction of the (FCC).”

November 2013: By the end of November, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will issue guidance allowing passengers to use personal electronic devices (PEDs) during taxiing, take-off and landing. The move, which applies to devices such as tablets, smartphones, eReaders and MP3 players, follows a similar decision by the (FAA), which lifted its restrictions late in October. “With the new guidance an airline, following its own assessment, will be able to allow passengers to use their (PED)s in ‘flight mode’ during all phases of flight,” (EASA) said.

However, it added that bulky (PED)s, such as laptops, will still need to be stowed during taxiing, take-off and landing. “In the long term, (EASA) is looking at new ways to certify the use of mobile phones on board airplanes to make phone calls,” (EASA) said.

Southwest Airlines (SWA) will be the first USA airline to offer passengers gate-to-gate wi-fi service after gaining an approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) throughout all phases of flight.

A majority of (SWA)’s fleet is outfitted with a Ku-band satellite wi-fi system from Global Eagle Entertainment's Row 44. In addition, (SWA) provides live television and on-demand content delivered to passengers’ portable devices. All of these services will be available without interruptions to passengers throughout the flight on small devices such as tablets and smartphones in “airplane mode.”

"We know this is something customers have wanted for some time now, and we're excited to give them the freedom to use personal devices while in the air and on the ground," said Kevin Krone, (SWA)’s Chief Marketing Officer.

(SWA) is one of the last major USA airlines to gain the approval for (PED) usage below 10,000 ft after the (FAA) updated its guidance to allow the expanded usage on October 31st. However, (SWA) is so far the only one among its peers to offer connectivity during the full duration of the flight. “Certainly, as the only domestic carrier with active satellite-based WiFi, [(SWA) has] yet again raised the bar, and we are proud to provide the service that will keep their passengers connected to the web, as well as allow them to use their portable electronic devices to access the entertainment they love through all phases of flight,” says Global Eagle Entertainment (CEO), John LaValle.

Many other USA carriers are outfitted with air-to-ground (ATG) technology offered through Gogo, which is certified for use on the ground but would require some changes to be used throughout the whole flight. The connectivity provider said earlier this month that (ATG) is engineered to work above >10,000ft and said it is exploring what it would look like to change that.

ViaSat has said that its Ka-band satellite system is certified and designed to work during take-off and landing, however, it has not yet been rolled out to passengers. The technology is expected to debut on a JetBlue (JBL) A320 in coming weeks and has also gained the approval for installation on United (UAL)’s 737s.

Delta Air Lines (DAL) and JetBlue (JBL) were the first airlines to gain (FAA) approvals to use (PED)s from gate to gate on November 1st. Since then, American Airlines (AAL), (UAL), US Airways (AMW)/(USA) and Alaska Airlines (ASA) have made similar approvals. Virgin America (VUS) has not yet announced its approval of gate-to-gate wi-fi but has said it is aiming to secure it before the busy holiday season.

The (FAA) is poised to order airlines to avoid flying 787 Dreamliners and 747-8 jumbo jets with General Electric Company (GEC) engines near thunderstorms after some of the planes experienced ice buildup.

An airworthiness directive (AD) due to be released is an “interim action” to ensure pilots (FC) fly clear of icing conditions that could reduce thrust from (GEnx) engines. The USA move follows Japan Airlines (JAL)’s decision to shift to other jets from 787s on some Asia routes. The icing risk adds urgency for pilots (FC) to steer clear of thunderstorms already shunned because of potentially deadly lightning and turbulence. Jets flying at high altitudes through tropical zones can be at risk from powerful storms that promote the formation of performance-sapping ice, according to (GEC). “It’s a relatively rare phenomenon, because it requires just the right meteorological conditions,” Hans Weber, President of San Diego-based aviation consultant, Tecop International Inc, said. “This isn’t a problem that will be limited to (GEC) engines. These crystals have been found in all engines at high altitudes near thunderstorms.”

The 787 Dreamliner, the first jet made chiefly of composite materials, entered service with (ANA) Holdings Inc’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) in October 2011. (ANA), the biggest 787 Dreamliner operator, uses Rolls-Royce Holdings (RRC) engines on its planes.

(JAL)’s 787s have (GEnx) engines, as do the 787S flown by United Airlines (UAL), the only USA airline flying 787s. (UAL) hasn’t changed schedules or routes for its 787s, said Christen David, a spokeswoman.

Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc (AAWW) (TLS), the lone USA operator of 747-8s, adjusted operations after Boeing (TBC)’s November 23 warning for (GEnx)-equipped jets to stay 50 nautical miles/93 kilometers from storms, said Bonnie Rodney, a spokeswoman. Any disruptions for the freighters “will be minimal and can be managed with only minor re-routings,” Rodney said.

Cathay Pacific Airways (CAT), the Hong Kong-based airline, said it has 10 Boeing 747-8Fs in its fleet that are powered by (GEnx) engines. As a precautionary measure, it’s standard operating procedure for 747-8F freighters is to avoid flying into thunderstorms, (CAT) said in an e-mailed response.

“This looks a lot like a classic teething issue,” Richard Aboulafia, an Aerospace analyst at Fairfax, Virginia-based consultant, Teal Group, said by e-mail. “It’s probably isolated to just the engine, and even then just one of the two engines available as options. It’s also probably easily fixed with a software tweak, rather than any kind of hardware modification.”

(GEC) said it’s making software modifications to eliminate the ice-buildup risk and expects them to be available in the first quarter. Marc Birtel, a Boeing (TBC) spokesman, said the engines’ design and maintenance practices, together with the new instructions, allow for the jets’ “continued safe operation.” “The (FAA) has been working closely with Boeing and (GEc) to monitor and understand these events as the companies develop a permanent solution,” the (FAA) said. It didn’t give a specific time for issuing the (AD) on the planes, which only covers USA carriers.

Both the 787 and 747-8 have had bumpy debuts. The 747-8 was two years late in starting service in 2011, and slack demand forced Boeing to cut output. The 787, whose 2011 entry was 3 1/2 years late, was grounded for three months in January after meltdowns in the lithium-ion battery packs on two 787s.

There have been six cases since April of planes with (GEnx) engines temporarily losing thrust in high-altitude icing conditions, (GEC) said November 23. Five were with 747-8s and one was with a 787.

(JAL) will replace 787s on flights between Tokyo and Delhi with 777s until November 30, and will switch to 767s on its Tokyo - Singapore route.

Boeing (TBC) surpassed 1,000 orders for the 787 with its haul at the Dubai Air Show this month. (TBC) handed over 57 of the four-engine 747-8s, through the end of last month, most of which are freighters.
“Airlines wouldn’t be too concerned about engines in terms of costs,” K Ajith, a Singapore-based analyst at (UOB) Kay Hian Pte. “There will be some of sort compensation for airlines. Despite the problems, the airplane is quite popular.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Tim Catts in New York at; Alan Levin in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at; Bernard Kohn at

Honeywell (SGC) is under an ongoing contract with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to study the usability of various forms of touch technology, such as cockpit displays, that will help to determine what factors would cause pilots (FC) to make more input errors or take longer to perform tasks as compared to traditional manually controlled cockpit interfaces.

Honeywell (SGC) is targeting business aviation and regional air transport airplanes for a new line of touchscreen avionics that it is currently developing, with the (FAA)-contracted research.

(SGC) has not announced any specific airplane that will receive touchscreen-enabled flight displays, but according to Jeff Merdich, Director Product Marketing for (SGC)'s Commercial Avionics division, business jets and regional airplanes are the target market.

As part of its research, (SGC) recreates the turbulent flight deck environment where touchscreen avionics will be deployed with a "six degrees of freedom flight deck simulation platform," according to Merdich. This allows test pilots (FC) to interact with touchscreen-enabled avionics displays mounted at forward, outboard and overhead cockpit positions.

"This allows the collection of accurate, repeatable data relating to pilot (FC) workload, accuracy and fatigue to ensure that we understand the efficiency of these devices in a flight deck environment," said Merdich. "We also utilize Honeywell (SGC)’s fleet of flight test airplanes to extend this research to the actual flight environment."

Central to Honeywell (SGC)'s research are human factors engineering principles, which involve studying the interaction of the pilot (FC)'s mind with proposed avionics systems, rather than focusing on the avionics alone. "We have a heavy focus on human factors, including the appropriate intended function and functional allocation for touch technology on the flight deck," said Merdich. "Our research, has shown that there are key attributes (technology, location, button size, spacing, menu navigation, etc.) to the implementation of touch that are instrumental toward insuring a satisfying user experience with touch in this unique environment."

Focusing on human factors should help to relieve fears expressed by operators and pilots (FC) in reaction to previous reports on touchscreen technology regarding inadvertent touchscreen swipes. To address inadvertent touchscreen interactions, Honeywell (SGC)'s researchers and engineers (MT) are evaluating the usability of differing touch technologies, such as digital resistive technology, which requires more pressure to change the function of the interface than would a typical swipe on a touchscreen smartphone or tablet.

So how long until the industry sees the widespread deployment of cockpit touchscreen technology? That depends on the intended function and usability for intended function, according to Merdich.
"With the continued growth of touch in the commercial technology space, we do see a transition to this technology over time," said Merdich. "Intended function and usability for intended function will be a key driver behind adoption of this or other interface modalities."

In July 2014, Honeywell (SGC) will present the results of its touchscreen research to the (FAA) for it to take into consideration for regulatory guidelines, and the conclusions will also help to guide their future product designs.

The (FAA) issued a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) to Global Aerospace Design Corporation for the interior reconfiguration of Air Niugini (NIU)'s 767 airplane. The interior reconfiguration program consists of new seats that contain in-flight entertainment and PC power systems. With this complete interior refresh, Air Niugini (NIU) said it is better suited to support its growing customer base.

December 2013: USA Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx reasserted the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) regulatory role regarding in-flight cell phone calls just as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has officially started consideration of a proposal to allow cellular voice calls aboard USA commercial flights.

The (FCC) had signaled it would review its ban on in-flight cell phone calls after the (FAA) cleared use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) in most phases of flight but declined to address the cell phone issue, saying it was under the (FCC)’s jurisdiction. But even the (FCC)’s consideration of the proposal, which this week was formally put up for public comment, has led to controversy in the USA. The (FCC)’s proposal has “garnered a great deal of attention and been widely misunderstood,” (FCC) Chairman, Tom Wheeler said, attempting to quell the controversy. “As always, we will review input from the public before taking any final action,” Wheeler said, emphasizing that if the (FCC) lifted the ban on in-flight calls, “airlines would not be [allowed to approve such calls] unless the airplane is outfitted with on-board equipment that manages a cellular signal before it has the potential to interfere with terrestrial networks. Absent such equipment, the ban would remain in effect. However, if an airline installs new on-board equipment, the (FCC)’s ban is no longer necessary.”

He continued, “Airlines would be free to make their own decisions. We simply propose that because new technology makes the old rule obsolete, the (FCC) should get government out from between airlines and their passengers.”

Foxx said he is “concerned about” in-flight cell phone calls, adding that while the (FCC)’s “sole role on this issue is to examine the technical feasibility of the use of mobile devices in flight,” the (DOT) and the (FAA), “as part of our aviation consumer protection authority,” will “determine if allowing these calls is fair to consumers.” Foxx said the (DOT) “will now begin a process that will look at the possibility of banning these in-flight calls.”

Wheeler said while he doesn’t “want the person in the seat next to me yapping at 35,000 feet any more than anyone else,” the (FCC) doesn’t have a role to play in regulating such behavior. “If the basis for the [in-flight cellular call ban] rule is no longer valid, then the rule is no longer valid,” he explained. “It’s that simple.”

January 2014: (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta told Congress flight delays are expected to be reduced by -41% by 2020 owing to the USA’s ongoing transition to the satellite-based NextGen air traffic control (ATC) system. NextGen (ATC) is targeted to provide $38 billion in benefits through 2020.

Commercialization remains the biggest challenge to achieving the (FAA)'s target of 1 billion gallons of renewable aviation fuel use by 2018, says (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta. "The challenge we face is scaling up production. We need government and industry to continue to work together on this," he told the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) general meeting in Washington DC.

At the end of this month, USA officials downgraded India's aviation safety rating due to that country’s lack of compliance with international safety standards as established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The (FAA) said India has been assigned a Category 2 rating under its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program. India received the downgraded rating based on a recent reassessment of the country's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Although the (FAA) did not provide details on the downgrading, the lower rating means India's (CAA) now lacks the ability to meet (ICAO) standards in areas such as providing adequate manpower for inspections and safety checks on airplanes.

During a news briefing, India Aviation Minister, Ajit Singh called the downgrading "disappointing" and "surprising," stating that he believes "95% of all the issues raised have been solved."

"USA and Indian aviation officials have developed an important working relationship as our countries work to meet the challenges of ensuring international aviation safety. The (FAA) is available to work with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to help India regain its Category 1 rating," said (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta.

With the downgraded rating, Indian carriers will not be able to increase their frequency of flights to the USA and will face extra inspection for current ones. State-run Air India (AIN) has 21 weekly flights to the USA, while Jet Airways (JPL) has seven.

The (FAA) originally identified issues with India's civil aviation oversight during its (IASA) assessment in September. Since then, the India Cabinet has hired 75 additional full-time Inspectors, but will need to take further action to address the (FAA)'s concerns.

February 2014: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued final regulations barring airline pilots (FC) from using laptops, cellphones or other electronic devices for personal reasons while on duty in the cockpit.

The rule, which was released this month and takes effect in two months, mandates prohibitions that were previously called for by Congress and included years ago in a nonbinding advisory document issued by the (FAA).

The move also parallels (FAA) rules issued more than >30 years ago requiring a so-called "sterile cockpit" in which personal discussions and other distractions are banned below certain altitudes.

The (FAA) said the rule "codifies existing (FAA) policies and procedures" applying to both cargo and passenger carriers.

In addition, individual airlines have included the issue in updated training curricula.

The dangers of aviators distracted by electronic devices created a furor five years ago, when a Northwest Airlines (NWA) flight crew (FC) overshot its destination by more than >100 miles because the pilots (FC) were engaged in a personal discussion and looking at their laptops. The plane landed safely, but the distracted crew (FC) was out of radio contact with air-traffic controllers for more than 70 minutes.

The (FAA) also cited a 2011 medical helicopter crash, which killed the pilot (FC) and three other on board, as an example of distractions caused by electronic devices.

The rule follows a conclusion by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that the (FAA)'s earlier non-binding advisory circular was inadequate. The (NTSB) also has advocated moves to crack down on texting and other electronic distractions by train engineers, marine operators and individual drivers. The (FAA) rejected arguments by some pilots (FC) that personal uses of such electronic devices sometimes enhance safety by alleviating cockpit boredom, lethargy and loss of concentration during cruise portions of flights.

The (FAA) also indicated it might extend the ban to small turboprop airplanes and charter operators.

The (FAA) has issued a Supplemental Type Certification (STC) for the Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) Split Scimitar Winglets. (APB) received the (STC) for installation of the winglets on Boeing 737-800 airplanes. The winglets use computational fluid dynamic technology to redefine the aerodynamics of the company's existing Blended Winglet product.

United Airlines (UAL) is the launch customer for the Split Scimitar Winglet. "We have seen record breaking pre-certification orders on this program demonstrating the credibility our products have developed with the marketplace. Including our program launch customer, (UAL), who has now partnered with (APB) on five unique certification programs, we expect to see a dozen airlines operating Split Scimitar Winglets in revenue service within the next couple of months," said Mike Stowell, Executive VP & Chief Technical Officer at (APB).

Federal investigators are looking at pilot fatigue, among other issues, as a possible factor in the fatal pre-dawn crash of a (UPS) cargo jet in Alabama last August 2013.

The pilots' (FC) work shift had begun at about 9 pm the previous day in Rockford, Illinois, and took them to Peoria and then to Lexington, Kentucky. They were finishing their last scheduled leg when the plane slammed into a hillside just before 5 am, while attempting to land in Birmingham.

Two years ago, the (FAA) issued new rules aimed at ensuring airline pilots (fc) have sufficient rest. But the (FAA) exempted cargo pilots (FC) from the rules, citing cost.

Avionics that enable pilots (FC) to receive real-time information about their position and the airborne location of other airplanes, or Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast In (ADS-B), will "not likely be ready" for mandate by 2020 under the (FAA)'s NextGen program, according to a new audit monitoring the program's progress issued by the Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

The (FAA) is mandating that all airplanes flying within the National Airspace System (NAS) are equipped with avionics that outwardly report the real-time position for tracking by air traffic controllers, or (ADS-B Out). However, the (FAA) is behind schedule on initiating rulemaking activities requiring the use of (ADS-B In), which the (OIG) claims is a key provision "intended to accelerate NextGen technologies."

March 2014: Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for the first phase of the Data Communications (Data Comm) Air Traffic Management (ATM) technology under the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) NextGen program is on track for 2016, according to a National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) official involved with the program.

Data Comm is one of the most transformative (ATM) overhauls coming to the USA National Airspace System (NAS) under NextGen. The technology will replace outdated two-way voice communication between Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) and pilots (FC), significantly reducing delays throughout the (NAS) by providing an email-like digital communications service for flight plans, departure clearances and route information.

Currently, the majority of flight crews (FC) receive verbal route instructions from an (ATC) prior to taxiing. The pilot (FC) then repeats that transmission back to the (ATC) to ensure that they have the correct information.

However, an airplane equipped with a Data Comm receiver obtains that same route information digitally, and the pilot (FC) confirms by pressing a button in the cockpit. The instructions are then loaded directly into the airplane's onboard computer system in seconds, significantly cutting down on the minutes pilots (FC) waste sitting on the runway burning fuel before takeoff.

"The initial roll out of the Future Air Navigation Services (FANS) Departure Clearance (DCL) capability is on track to for a first site Initial Operating Capability by 2016. The Tower Data Link Services [TDLS] version 12 that contains the capability to send initial and revised clearances directly to the flight deck will be deployed to 56 sites, beginning at Salt Lake City International Airport," said Chad Geyer, the Data Comm Article 48 representative for (NATCA).

The Harris Corporation, which was awarded the (FAA)'s $331 million Data Communications Integrated Services (DCIS) contract in September 2012, during a fall 2013 interview with "Avionics" magazine said that the (FAA) has achieved 80% of its avionics equipage goal within the first year of the six-year program.

The (FAA) and Harris have an airline outreach initiative designed to influence airlines to equip a total of 1,900 airplanes with Data Comm software and hardware by 2019 for Future Air Navigation Systems (FANS). United (UAL) plans to equip up to 397 of its airplanes over the next six years, though the other carriers have not announced how many they're committed to upgrading with the new avionics.

The second phase of the Data Comm program will deploy Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) to En Route (ATC) centers, giving controllers even more connection to the airplane's flight deck with the digital transfer of communications, validation and assignment of altitudes, revised route information and issuance of altimeters, according to Geyer. (CPDLC) is scheduled for deployment to 20 En Route (ATC) centers throughout the (NAS), beginning in 2019.

Data Comm trials are currently occurring at Newark Liberty International Airport and Memphis Airport with (UAL) and four other USA carriers that currently wish to remain unnamed. Geyer said that later this year, when thunderstorm season brings the need for increased route revisions, controllers and pilots (FC) using the technologies at those two airports will see an increased benefit.

"In bad weather situations, airplanes are routinely rerouted to avoid weather. The ability to send multiple clearance revisions to departures will reduce the amount of times that an airplane is waiting for their clearance and not able to depart," said Geyer.

"Certain tasks that are currently only able to be achieved by the radar controller via voice will now be shared among the sector team. This will allow the radar controller time to run a more efficient sector. The ability to send route information that is in a loadable format to the flight deck will not only reduce the time it takes to input the data, but will also reduce input errors that occur," Geyer added.

April 2014: Jeppesen has received a letter of operational suitability from the (FAA) confirming the form and functionality of the iPad mini for use in cockpits, when paired with Jeppesen’s electronic flight bag (EFB).

The (FAA) said it has completed “nationwide installation” of an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) radio network to support its ongoing transition to the satellite-based NextGen air traffic control (ATC) system. “The installation of this radio network clears the way for air traffic controllers to begin using (ADS-B) to separate equipped airplanes nationwide,” (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta said. “It will also provide pilots (FC) flying airplanes equipped with the proper avionics with traffic information, weather data and other flight information.”

USA Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx stated, “This upgrade is an important step in laying the foundation for the NextGen system, which provides controllers a much more precise view of the airspace, gives pilots (FC) much more awareness and information, and as a result strengthens the safety and efficiency of our system.”

Full NextGen implementation is still years away, however. The (FAA) said it is currently using (ADS-B) to separate airplanes at 100 of 230 USA (ATC) facilities; full use of (ADS-B) at all 230 facilities is not expected until 2019. “All airplanes operating in controlled airspace must be equipped with (ADS-B Out) avionics that broadcast the plane’s location by January 1, 2020,” the (FAA) noted.

The (FAA) said (ADS-B Out) transponders would allow “airplane positions on controller screens [to] update almost continuously compared to every 4.7 seconds or longer with radar. (ADS-B) also enables more accurate tracking of airplanes and airport vehicles on runways and taxiways, increasing safety and efficiency. The new system significantly improves surveillance capability in areas with geographic challenges like mountains or over water.”

The (FAA) has announced the first of six test sites chosen to perform unmanned airplane systems (UAS) research is operational, more than two-and-a -half months ahead of a congressionally mandated deadline.

The (FAA) granted the North Dakota Department of Commerce team a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to begin using a Draganflyer X4ES small (UAS) at its Northern Plains (UAS) Test Site. The (COA) is effective for two years. The team plans to begin flight operations during the week of May 5.

According to the (FAA), the main goal of this site’s initial operations is to show that (UAS) can check soil quality and the status of crops in support of North Dakota State University/Extension Service precision agriculture research studies.

The (FAA) said the Northern Plains Unmanned Airplane Systems Test Site also will collect safety-related operational data needed for (UAS) airspace integration. “The information will help the (FAA) analyze current processes for establishing small (UAS) airworthiness and system maturity. Maintenance data collected during site operations will support a prototype database for (UAS) maintenance and repair,” according to the (FAA).

(FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta said the data “will lay the groundwork for reducing risks and ensuring continued safe operations of (UAS). We believe the test site programs will be extremely valuable to integrating unmanned airplanes and fostering America’s leadership in advancing this technology.”

The North Dakota (COA) covers two separate geographical locations. Initial flights will be conducted over North Dakota State University’s Carrington Research Extension Center located in Carrington, North Dakota. The second set of missions, scheduled for summer 2014, will fly over Sullys Hill National Game Preserve near Devils Lake, North Dakota.

The (FAA) selected six congressionally mandated test sites on December 30, 2013. It said it is working with the test sites to guide their research programs to help the (FAA) safely integrate (UAS) into the national airspace over the next several years.

The (FAA) has alleged that Hawaiian Airlines (HWI) went eight years without properly inspecting certain components of one of its Boeing 767-300s used for commercial flights. The (FAA) proposed a civil penalty of nearly $548,000. (HWI) has requested an informal conference with the (FAA).

May 2014: India’s civil aviation regulator has asked Indian airlines to track all airplanes in real time. The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said the decision was prompted by the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370, a Boeing 777-200 that vanished from radar March 8 during a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and with 239 people on board.

The regulator has ordered Indian carriers to track airplanes in real time using on onboard Aircraft Communications Addressing & Reporting System (ACARS) or Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). Airlines have yet to respond to the regulator’s directive. Most airlines and private airplanes already have the systems on their airplanes.

The (DGCA) also said airlines should devise a procedure to track airplanes flying over areas not covered by (ACARS) or (ADS-B). It ordered flight crews (FC) report airplane coordinates, speed and altitude every 15 minutes while flying over such areas, a "Reuters" report said.

“While commercial air transport airplanes spend a considerable amount of time operating over remote areas, there is currently no international requirement for real time tracking of the airplanes,” the (DGCA) said.

Satellite operator Inmarsat has offered to establish a global airplane tracking service over its existing satellite communications network following the loss of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370.

The Boeing 777-200, with 239 people on board, went missing March 8 during a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. No trace of the 777 has yet been found despite an extensive multinational search effort. However, information gained from satellite data and some pings detected, are believed to have been emitted by the 777’s flight data recorder (FDR), indicating the 777 could be deep on the sea floor in the south Indian Ocean off the coast of Perth.

The proposed system, which Inmarsat said it will offer as a free service, should enable tracking of some 11,000 airplanes equipped with a suitable satellite connection. “Because of the nature of existing Inmarsat aviation services, our proposals can be implemented right away on all ocean-going commercial airplanes using equipment that is already installed,” Inmarsat (CEO), Rupert Pearce said.

He said the use of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C) through the Inmarsat network could be offered “responsibly, quickly and at little or no cost to the industry,” and that it would address some of the issues that led to the still-unsolved disappearance of Flight MH370. Inmarsat said that “leading aviation safety partners” had already bought into the proposal.

It has also proposed what it calls a “black box in the cloud,” which could stream historic and real-time flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR) information to aviation regulators or safety authorities, if required. This would not be full time, but would see data uploads automatically start in the event of a range of “trigger events” such as an unapproved course deviation, or a sudden change in altitude.

Inmarsat said the (ADS-C) tracking/upload option should track most commercial passenger airplanes, which is close to 100% of the world’s long-haul commercial fleet.

The USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has called on the (FAA) to “re-evaluate” the risk of an “internal short circuit” in lithium ion batteries currently operating on in-service Boeing 787s.

The recommendation was part of a 12-page “safety recommendation” letter sent by the (NTSB) to (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta stemming from findings in the (NTSB)’s investigation of the January 7, 2013 fire aboard a parked Japan Airlines (JAL) 787 at Boston Logan Airport. Though the (NTSB) has not established a root cause for the (JAL) 787 fire, it has determined that short circuiting in a cell of the lithium ion battery, that starts the airplane’s auxiliary power unit (APU) led to thermal runaway (uncontrolled chemical reactions resulting from overheating) that cascaded to other battery cells and led to a fire.

That incident, coupled with a January 16 lithium ion battery failure aboard an All Nippon Airways (ANA) 787 during a flight over Japan, prompted the (FAA) to ground the 787 Dreamliner fleet for more than >3 months in 2013. Boeing developed a comprehensive fix for the 787’s lithium ion batteries (used for the 787’s main battery and (APU) battery) that convinced the (FAA) to lift the grounding in April 2013.

But the (NTSB) said that the current standard for lithium ion battery design and safety certification in aviation applications “does not address all of the unique aspects of a battery’s installation on an airplane. Thus, airplane manufacturers need to evaluate whether additional requirements and testing are necessary to ensure airplane-level safety.”

Boeing (TBC) said that the 787’s revamped lithium ion battery system went “through rigorous certification testing before the 787 returned to service last year” and the tests were “fully consistent” with recommendations made by the (NTSB). “We therefore remain confident in the safety and integrity of the comprehensive battery solution which was developed by Boeing (TBC), and approved by the (FAA), last year,” (TBC) said.

Mike Sinnett, who served as Boeing’s 787 Chief Project Engineer until July 2013, conceded during testimony before the (NTSB) in April 2013, that while the original 787 lithium ion battery certification testing conducted in 2006 was “rigorous in retrospect [the testing] wasn’t conservative enough.” When the (FAA) cleared Boeing (TBC)’s fix for the 787’s battery system in April 2013, Sinnett told reporters, “We have learned a lot about how to test batteries and be more conservative.”

The (NTSB) has concluded that the original 787 lithium ion battery certification tests conducted in 2006 “were inadequate, in part because there is no standardized thermal runaway test that’s conducted in the environment and conditions that would most accurately reflect how the battery would perform, when installed and operated on an in-service airplane.” The (NTSB)’s safety recommendation to the (FAA) said that certification tests for lithium ion batteries for use on airplanes should be conducted to ensure a full understanding of how the battery will react when installed on an airplane.

The (NTSB) “has concluded that airplane certification tests that induce thermal runaway of a cell in a lithium ion battery configured as installed on the airplane would better demonstrate to the (FAA) that the battery installation could effectively mitigate the potential safety effects of an internal short circuit,” the (NTSB) told the (FAA). “As a result, the (NTSB) recommends that the (FAA) develop abuse tests that subject a single cell within a permanently installed, rechargeable lithium ion battery to thermal runaway, and demonstrate that the battery installation mitigates all hazardous effects of propagation to other cells and the release of electrolyte, fire, or explosive debris outside the battery case. The tests should replicate the battery installation on the airplane and be conducted under conditions that produce the most severe outcome.”

The (NTSB) said the (FAA) should “develop an airplane-level thermal runaway test to demonstrate safety performance in the presence of an internal short circuit failure” and require that such a test be “part of certification of future airplane designs.” In addition, the (NTSB) wants the (FAA) to “develop guidance for thermal runaway test methods” and “include a panel of independent expert consultants early in the certification process for new technologies installed on airplane.”

Responding to the (NTSB)’s recommendations, Boeing (TBC) said, “While the testing performed on the 787’s original lithium ion batteries during certification was consistent with the widely accepted industry standards of that time, airplane certification standards should and do evolve as the state of knowledge advances. For that reason, while we are reviewing the (NTSB)’s specific recommendations to the (FAA), we support efforts to ensure that certification standards for lithium ion batteries reflect and incorporate such advances. We stand prepared to work with the (FAA) and other affected stakeholders as it considers the (NTSB)’s specific recommendations.”

Boeing (TBC) 787 operators have received (FAA) approval to fly Extended Twin-engine OPerationS (ETOPS), a development that (TBC) says will enable the airplane to fly on a wider range of routes and to more destinations. The (ETOPS) approval allows 787s to be operated for up to 330 minutes/5.5 hours away from an airport, up from the previous 180 minutes. The (FAA)'s approval is a sign of confidence in the 787 that received negative publicity throughout 2013 after incidents involving its lithium-ion battery system grounded the global 787 fleet for more than >3 months.

"Our customers are eager to expand their 787 operations," said Larry Loftis, VP & General Manager, 787 Program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA). "We're delighted that this capability, which was designed into the airplane from the very beginning, has been certified."

To date, Boeing (BCA) has delivered 146 787 Dreamliners to 19 different customers, and has received 1,030 orders for the 787 from 60 different customers. (BCA) plans on an entry into service (EIS) for two new versions of the 787, with the 787-9 toward the end of this year, and the 787-10 in 2016.

June 2014: USA President Barack Obama will nominate Christopher Hart to be Chairman of the USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Hart, (NTSB)’s Vice Chairman, has served as acting Chairman since former Chairperson, Deborah Hersman resigned from the board on April 25. Hart this month oversaw the (NTSB)’s public hearing releasing the board’s investigative findings on the Asiana Airlines (AAR) Flight 214 777 crash - - SEE ATTACHED - - "FAA-2014-06-NTSB ASIANA 777 CRASH-A/B." He has been a member of the board since August 2009 and was also a member from 1990 - 1993.

Hart has previously served as the (FAA) Deputy Director Air Traffic Safety Oversight and as FAA Assistant Administrator System Safety. His term as an (NTSB) member runs to December 31, 2017. Hart’s nomination to be (NTSB) Chairman will have to be confirmed by the USA Senate.

The (FAA) has made “clear and measurable progress” toward completing the technological foundation of the USA Next Generation air traffic control system (NextGen), according to Deputy (FAA) Administrator Mike Whitaker. Presenting the annual NextGen progress report to Congress, Whitaker said Congress had taken “a keen interest” in what he described as “this 20-year-long endeavor known as NextGen.”

Congress has at times been skeptical and frustrated with slow progress on the switch from ground-based to satellite-based systems.
Whitaker acknowledged, “The fact that NextGen was planned as such a long-term undertaking, presents us with a significant communications challenge. It is difficult to convey the scale of the undertaking changing out the hardware, software and procedures in the entire National Airspace System (NAS), all the while keeping it running and keeping it running safely.”

He pointed out NextGen is taking “the next quantum leap in air traffic control (ATC),” and although many of the program’s changes “are nearly invisible to the flying public, passengers today are, however, already enjoying the benefits of NextGen through shorter flights, better on-time performance and fewer missed connections.”

Whitaker said airlines are already saving flight time and fuel burn, and reducing airplane exhaust emissions by using more precise routing, while air traffic controllers have access to new tools to help them make critical safety and efficiency decisions. “NextGen is already working for America,” he said. “We have strengthened our partnerships with key stakeholders, coming to an agreement on a set of near-term capabilities that both the (FAA) and industry will concentrate on over the next three years. And we have concrete evidence that demonstrates how NextGen works for aviation and for the USA as a whole.” But Whitaker warned that funding uncertainty remains a shadow hanging over full exploitation of the potential benefits NextGen offered. He said it is “important to remember that delivering NextGen to the traveling public is not a foregone conclusion. Some of the foundational capabilities have already been delayed due to the disruption of the sequester. For others, we have had to delay implementation schedules as projected funding has not materialized.”

He said next year would be “pivotal for the next stage of NextGen, as we make investment decisions for a series of future programs. These decisions are dependent on stable funding. With the continuing support of Congress and our stakeholders, we will deliver NextGen and its benefits to aviation, the economy and the American people.”

United Airlines (UAL) is ready to start taking advantage of the (FAA)'s NextGen airspace modernization program in Houston, Texas, where (UAL) recently collaborated with the (FAA) and the National Air Traffic Controller's Association (NATCA) to implement new Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) flight procedures.

At the end of May, a total of 50 new airspace procedures were implemented, all aimed at allowing airlines to take advantage of modern avionics systems and (PBN). Houston is one of 13 Metroplexes (a system of airports with shared airspace serving one or more major cities) where the (FAA) is working with the industry to implement (PBN) procedures.

According to Captain Ron Renk, Chief Technical Pilot for Flight Operations Technology at (UAL), the overhaul of the Houston metroplex will allow (UAL)'s pilots (FC) to start using the Flight Management Systems (FMS) on the airplane in new ways. "(UAL) will take advantage of the Flight Management Computer (FMC)'s ability to plan a path descent that is efficient for the airplane in the particular weather conditions during the arrival. While the legacy system used the (FMC) to plan the lateral path the airplane flew, Air Traffic Control (ATC) would control the vertical with a series of descents and level-offs," said Renk. "(UAL) will now have near idle descent profiles which will save fuel, reduce noise and reduce emissions."

Among the new procedures that were implemented, there were 20 new Area Navigation (RNAV) Standard Terminal Arrivals and 20 new (RNAV) Standard Instrument Departures (SID) along with six modified Instrument Landing System (ILS) transitions.

On average, (UAL) flies nearly 560 flights per day within the Houston metroplex. Renk said that beyond the new (FMS) usage, the (PBN) procedures also enable improved communications between pilots (FC) and (ATC) in the airspace. "Once you are issued a descent via or climb via clearance the airplane will fly the predetermined lateral and vertical path without the need to issue headings, speeds and altitudes," said Renk. "We also expect to see improved arrival rates (throughput increases) as a result of airplane procedures and taking advantage of the technology we already have on the airplane."

Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center has also published a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) for airplanes using the airspace that are not properly equipped to perform the new (PBN) procedures.

(UAL) was also the lead carrier working with the (FAA) in the Denver Metroplex project, which was modernized in 2013 with a network of 51 satellite-based, according to (FAA) Deputy Administrator, Michael Whitaker. All of (UAL)'s airplanes are equipped with avionics to enable satellite-based procedures, which are estimated to save them -100 to -200 pounds of fuel per arrival there.

Renk said the Houston project was one of the first where there was a high level of collaboration between the (FAA) and the industry. "The Houston Metroplex is the first fully implemented (FAA) Metroplex project. We were very pleased with the collaborative efforts brought forth by the Metroplex program. This is one of the first times that the (FAA), (NATCA) and the airline industry all worked together to re-design airspace. Having pilots (FC), controllers and various branches of the (FAA) involved, really helped identify the best way to get procedures that benefited everyone and could be implemented smoothly," said Renk.

The (FAA) has announced Nevada’s unmanned airplane systems (UAS) test site (the third of six) is now operational. The (FAA) said it granted the State of Nevada team a two-year Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to use an Insitu ScanEagle at the Desert Rock Airport located in Mercury, Nevada. Desert Rock Airport, owned and operated by the Department of Energy, is a private airport and not for general use. “The ScanEagle will fly at or below <3,000 feet, monitored by a visual observer and mission commander. Initial flights will verify that a (UAS) can operate safely at the airport,” the (FAA) said.

According to the (FAA), Nevada’s research will concentrate on (UAS) standards and operations as well as operator standards and certification requirements. The site’s activities also will include a concentrated look at how air traffic control (ATC) procedures will evolve with the introduction of (UAS) into the civil environment and how these airplanes will integrate with NextGen, the modernization of the national airspace system.

“The (UAS) test sites will help us identify operational goals as well as safety issues we must consider, when expanding the use of unmanned airplanes into our airspace,” (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta said. “This industry is growing exponentially, and we are working hard to make sure it does so safely.”

The (FAA) selected six congressionally mandated test sites on December 30, 2013. It said it is working with the test sites to guide their research programs to help the (FAA) safely integrate (UAS) into the national airspace over the next several years.

The (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have certified the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner for commercial service. Each agency granted Boeing (TBC) an Amended Type Certificate for the 787-9, certifying the design complies with aviation regulations and is safe and reliable. To earn certification, Boeing said it undertook a comprehensive test program with five airplanes and more than >1,500 hours of flight testing, plus ground and laboratory testing. “Certification is the culmination of years of hard work and a rigorous flight-test program, that started with the 787-9's first flight last September,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) President & (CEO), Ray Conner said. “With this validation that the airplane is ready for commercial operations, Boeing (TBC) (along with our airline and leasing customers) now look forward to introducing the newest member of the 787 Dreamliner family to passengers around the world.”

The (FAA) also granted Boeing (TBC) an Amended Production Certificate, validating that the Boeing production system can produce 787-9s that conform to the design. (TBC) said it is now in the final stages of preparing for the first 787-9 delivery to launch customer Air New Zealand (ANZ).

(AAR) ((AFD)/(ALC)) has become the first Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) operator to voluntarily share safety information with the (FAA)’s Aviation Safety Information Analysis & Sharing program.

July 2014: NextGen software technology that will allow air traffic controllers to maximise the benefits of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures on the approach to the runway is being transferred to the (FAA) from (NASA) (NAS) in an official ceremony at (FAA) headquarters.

Coupled with the precision of (PBN), the technology, called Terminal Sequence & Spacing, provides predictability, allowing controllers to safely reduce excess spacing between approaching airplanes, saving time and fuel while reducing emissions.

The technology uses time-based metering to improve the safety and efficiency of Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) approach procedures in terminal airspace.

The airport-centric Terminal Sequence & Spacing technology dovetails with an existing traffic metering tool that delivers efficiencies in the airspace beyond the airport. Time-Based Flow Management, which improves the flow of traffic through high altitude, en route airspace down to the four corner posts, navigational fixes in the sky approximately 40 miles from an airport. Terminal Sequence & Spacing helps controllers manage airplanes from the four corner posts down to the runway.

With the new technology, controllers see circles (called slot markers) on their display screens that indicate where an airplane should be in order to fly an (RNAV) or (RNP) route through the forecasted wind field, meet all speed and altitude restrictions and land on time. This software enables the use of (PBN) procedures to become more routine, requiring less vectoring, fewer level-offs of airplane and less communication between controllers and pilots (FC).

The (FAA), which received an initial technology transfer of Terminal Sequence & Spacing from (NASA) last September, is expected to make a full investment decision by the end of the year through its Joint Resources Council, a team of top agency executives that reviews major acquisitions and approves funding.

ACCDT: On July 17th, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH17 Amsterdam - Kuala Lumpur 777-2H6ER (TRENT 892B-17) (84-28411, /97 9M-MRD) has been shot down by a missile over east Ukraine near Russian border, resulting in all 295 (15 (FC - CA), 280 Passengers) on board being killed.

This sparked a massive international political crisis as evidence pointed to the 777 being shot down by a surface-to-air missile.

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) said that “it received notification from Ukrainian Air Traffic Control (ATC) that it had lost contact with flight MH17 approximately 50 km from the Russia - Ukraine border.”

The flight departed Amsterdam at 12:15 pm local time and was operating a code share with (KLM) Royal Dutch Airlines. The majority of the passengers were Dutch.

The 777 was cruising at 33,000 ft, when contact was lost. Wreckage and bodies are strewn across a wide area on the ground.

The (FAA) said it has been in contact with USA carriers following the crash and that carriers have voluntarily agreed not to operate in the airspace near the Russian - Ukraine border. “The (FAA) is monitoring the situation to determine whether further guidance is necessary.” Most major airlines that fly in the area, a common routing between European cities and Southeast Asia, also announced they would avoid the area.

The (MAS) 777-200ER that crashed over Ukraine, killing all 298 on board, was shot down by a surface-to-air-missile (SAM) from territory controlled by Russian-supporting militants, USA President Barack Obama said. “The shot was taken from territory that was controlled by the Russian separatists,” Obama said.

(MAS), meanwhile, stated that the route for Flight MH17 was approved by Eurocontrol. “MH17’s flight plan was approved by Eurocontrol, who are solely responsible for determining civil airplane flight paths over European airspace. Eurocontrol is the air navigation service provider for Europe and is governed under (ICAO) rules,” (MAS) said.
“The route over Ukrainian airspace where the incident occurred is commonly used for Europe to Asia flights. A flight from a different carrier was on the same route at the time of the MH17 incident, as were a number of other flights from other carriers in the days and weeks before.”

The airline added that in April, (ICAO) “identified an area over the Crimean peninsula as risky.” It said that at no point did MH17 fly into, or request to fly into, this area. “At all times, MH17 was in airspace approved by the (ICAO).”

An (IATA) spokesman clarified that individual states, not (IATA) or (ICAO), determine any restrictions on airspace routes.

According to the Malaysia Airlines statement, MH17 filed a flight plan requesting to fly at 35,000 ft throughout Ukrainian airspace, but on entering Ukrainian airspace, was instructed by Ukrainian air traffic control to fly at 33,000 ft.

This was just 1,000 ft higher than a restriction not to fly below 32,000 ft, because of the combat zone below on the Ukraine - Russia border. (SAM) weapons known to be operating in that area can reach altitudes of 70,000 ft or higher.

(MAS) said it is now avoiding Ukrainian airspace entirely, flying further south over Turkey.

In an address from the White House, Obama called the deaths of almost 300 people “an outrage of unspeakable proportions. Evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile that was launched from an area that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine,” he said. “We also know that this is not the first time a plane has been shot down in eastern Ukraine. Over the last several weeks, Russian-backed separatists have shot down a Ukrainian transport plane and a Ukrainian helicopter, and they claimed responsibility for shooting down a Ukrainian fighter jet. Moreover, we know that these separatists have received a steady flow of support from Russia. This includes arms and training. It includes heavy weapons. And it includes anti-aircraft weapons.”

Obama called the downing of MH17 “a global tragedy” and called for “a credible international investigation into what happened.” He said the USA stands ready to provide any assistance that is necessary in the investigation and that (FBI) and the (NTSB) personnel are enroute to the crash site.

After the shoot-down, Ukrainian air service provider Uksatse closed air routes in the Dnipropetrovsk flight information region covering the eastern portion of the country. Eurocontrol said it is rejecting all flight plans that include the routes, adding that the European Aviation Crisis Coordination Cell (EACCC) “is being activated to coordinate the response to the impact of the airspace closure.” (EACCC) was established by the European Commission and Eurocontrol in 2010 to manage crisis responses for the European air traffic management network.

The (FAA) announced in a press release it is proposing a $12 million civil penalty against Southwest Airlines (SWA) for failing to comply with (FAA) regulations in three separate enforcement cases related to repairs on its Boeing 737s.

The (FAA) said it “alleges that beginning in 2006, (SWA) conducted so-called ‘extreme makeover’ alterations to eliminate potential cracking of the aluminum skin on 44 jetliners. The (FAA) conducted an investigation that included both (SWA) and its contractor, Aviation Technical Services (ATS) (BFG) of Everett, Washington. Investigators determined that (ATS) (BFG) failed to follow proper procedures for replacing the fuselage skins on these airplanes. (FAA) investigators also determined that (ATS) (BFG) failed to follow required procedures for placing the airplanes on jacks and stabilizing them. All of the work was done under the supervision of Southwest Airlines (SWA), which was responsible for ensuring that procedures were properly followed.”

The (FAA) alleges “(SWA) returned the jetliners to service and operated them when they were not in compliance with federal aviation regulations (FAR)s. The regulatory violations charged involve numerous flights that occurred in 2009 after the (FAA) put the airline on notice that these airplanes were not in compliance with either (FAA) Airworthiness Directives (AD)s or alternate, (FAA)-approved methods of complying with the (AD)s. The (FAA) later approved the repairs after (SWA) provided proper documentation that the repairs met safety standards.”

During its investigation, the (FAA) said it “found that (ATS) (BFG) workers applied sealant beneath the new skin panels, but did not install fasteners in all of the rivet holes during the timeframe for the sealant to be effective. This could have resulted in gaps between the skin and the surface to which it was being mounted. Such gaps could allow moisture to penetrate the skin and lead to corrosion. As a result of the improper repairs, these airplanes did not comply with federal aviation regulations (FAR)s.”

The (FAA) also “alleges that (ATS) (BFG) personnel failed to follow requirements to properly place these airplanes on jacks and shore them up while the work was being performed. If a plane is shored improperly during skin replacement, the airframe could shift and lead to subsequent problems with the new skin.”

In the third case, “the (FAA) alleges that (SWA) failed to properly install a ground wire on water drain masts on two of its Boeing 737s in response to an (FAA) (AD) addressing lightning strikes on these components. As a result, the airplanes were not in compliance with federal aviation regulations (FAR)s. The airplanes were each operated on more than >20 passenger flights after (SWA) became aware of the discrepancies, but before (SWA) corrected the problem.”

(SWA) Communications Director, Brandy King said in an emailed statement: “The (FAA) letter includes repair issues that were addressed several years ago. The press release and letter issued by the (FAA) are not assessments of a fine (they are proposed), and (SWA) will respond to the (FAA) allegations in accordance with applicable procedures. Having fully resolved the repair issues some time ago, none of the items raised in the (FAA) letter affect airplanes currently being operated by (SWA). Safety is paramount and we always strive for full compliance with established and approved processes and procedures. As always, (SWA) is committed to continuously making enhancements to our internal procedures, as well as improvements related to oversight of our repair vendors. This continuous improvement has helped bolster (SWA)’s maintenance program, continuing our safety commitment for every (SWA) employee in all aspects of our operations.”

August 2014: One year after the fatal crash of United Parcel Service (UPS) flight 1354, (UPS) pilots (FC) are calling for an end to the exclusion of all-cargo airline operators from FAR Part 117 (the new pilot rest and operating rules) Congress enacted to mitigate pilot (FC) fatigue. While Part 117, which became effective for cargo carriers on January 4, protects commercial pilots (FC) from fatigue, all-cargo airlines are “carved-out” of the duty limits and rest requirements, leaving them susceptible to exhaustion.

(UPS) flight 1354 drew attention to the exclusion of all-cargo pilots (FC), when cockpit voice recorder (CVR) transcripts revealed pilot (FC) fatigue played a large role in the August 14 crash. The crash occurred on approach at the Birmingham-Shuttleworth International Airport, killing Captain Cerea Beal, Jr and First Officer Shanda Fanning. The Independent Pilot Association (IPA) is bringing a lawsuit against the (FAA) in an attempt to fight the all-cargo exclusion.

"This carve-out puts our nation's entire aviation system at risk," said Jim Hall, former Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). "A tired pilot (FC) is a tired pilot (FC), regardless of the plane he or she may be flying. By excluding cargo pilots (FC) from Part 117, the (FAA) is failing to adhere to its mission of making safety, the first priority in aviation. If the (FAA) believes even one life lost in an accident is too many, the principle should also apply to cargo pilots (FC)."

September 2014: The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has restructured, in a move it says will enable it to engage more pragmatically with the aviation industry.

The changes, which became effective September 1, include the creation of a strategy and safety management directorate to promote a data-driven and performance-based approach to managing safety.

“All regulatory functions have been integrated across the different aviation domains, and more homogeneity has been introduced to better enable the agency to speak with one voice,” the (EASA) said.

The Nigerian Minister of Aviation, Mr Osita Chidoka, said that the Ministry of Aviation would collaborate with USA experts on safety and security, to ensure safety in air transportation. Chidoka made this known when the US Ambassador, Mr James Entwistle, visited him in his office in Abuja.

He said Nigeria and the USA had been cooperating in the areas of capacity building, and improvement in regulatory and commercial activities. "The key focus of the sector is on safety and security at our airports and we will be talking with USA experts on safety and security.

"In the USA Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Category One, we did a lot on safety and security standard at the airports. But now, we are going to deepen in that, to ensure that our system is of world class such that the (FAA) certification process will be just easy,'' Chidoka said.

Earlier, Entwistle said that the essence of his visit was to talk on crucial areas of cooperation in the aviation sector. He said that the USA Government was ready to work with the Nigerian aviation sector, noting that Chidoka would soon be discussing with some U.S. government agencies on safety and security.

On Ebola challenge, he commended the Federal Government and public health officials for implementing effective containment measures. "I visited your Emergency Operation Centre in Lagos and I must say I was impressed; they are doing a good job; and when the news of Ebola spread to Port Harcourt, the response was also quick that was remarkable.

"And the key to this is contact tracing, public information and isolation; you had all these things and your government is doing a good job. "The USA Government, especially the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is glad to help. The situation in Nigeria on Ebola is fundamentally different from the situation in Liberia and Sieore Leone.

"The important thing is that all the cases in Nigeria so far can be traced back to the original index case; that is good news because your contact tracing is doing a good job,'' Entwistle said. He said that when he flew into Abuja from Europe, he was impressed that everybody in the airplane was given a form to fill, including their seat number. "I believe this will help in case there is any challenge of one infected with the disease a contact can easily be traced.

The Future of NextGen:
There’s a long road ahead, but nothing will get in their way. That was the sentiment at the NextGen Institute’s public forum in which speakers from the (FAA) and private sectors discussed the goals and shortcomings of NextGen implementation.

The NextGen Institute, a public-private partnership between the (FAA) and the National Center for Advanced Technologies (NCAT), addressed, at its public forum entitled “Achieving Gains, Building the Future,” issues related to the Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) implementation mandate set for 2020.

Michael Whitaker, the Deputy Administrator & Chief NextGen officer at the (FAA), opened the forum by addressing the progress the program has seen in the last year. “NextGen is a 20 year, $20 billion endeavor and we’re $5 billion in, so it’s still relatively early in the long haul,” Whitaker said, referring to the money that’s already been spent on NextGen programs equipage such as (ADS-B), Data Communications (Data Comm), National Airspace System Voice System (NASVS), and System Wide Information Management (SWIM). “But we are on track for the completion of the foundational pieces of the program.”

The (FAA) has spent much of the last year building ground structures for terrestrial (ADS-B) to prepare for when NextGen implementation comes around, conducting research to figure out the best way to forge ahead and reworking airport procedures, from which the largest gains can be seen.

“We introduced 61 new satellite-based procedures in the Houston area to reduce distances flown by as much as 650,000 nautical miles each year in the USA because of the redesign, that’s equivalent to taking 6,000 cars off the streets,” said Whitaker. “There have been new runway procedures in Atlanta that have significantly increased passengers and the new procedures have been hugely popular with carriers to increase runway capacity.”

And while time was spent highlighting the gains made with NextGen procedures, the conversation quickly turned toward the challenges the troubled and highly criticized program has faced in the past and how those involved are looking to mitigate these issues as it maps out the road ahead. At the forefront of these issues is the budget. “We’re somewhat at the mercy of the funding process,” said Whitaker, who admitted that the lack of long-term visibility makes future programs uncertain and unstable. The (FAA)’s Assistant Administrator for NextGen, Edward Bolton, Jr, added to the budgetary uncertainty by noting that the funding necessary to complete the program is $2 billion short. Current levels of funding allow just enough room for the (FAA) to move forward with the base programs of NextGen; Bolton hopes to capitalize on this short road ahead by demonstrating that, this time, the (FAA) means business.

“By saying you’re going to do something and doing exactly what you’ve said, demonstrating that you’re capable of carrying it out, that’s the best way to achieve more stable funding,” said Bolton. And one of the areas where the (FAA) promises to keep its word is the 2020 (ADS-B) mandate.

“One of our main initiatives is communicating that the 2020 date is not going to change,” said Whitaker, who set out to demystify the myth that the date would be pushed back. But, although the timeline might remain the same, the exact terms of the mandate are unclear, particularly in regards to whether (UAS) (large or small) will need to be equipped with (ADS-B) capabilities, and how that can be done. With Google’s unveiling of "Project Wing," a low-flying, commercial use delivery (UAS), and similar projects by Amazon and other non-aviation companies, (UAS) becomes a more pressing and challenging issue to tackle.

“Thirteen years ago things like (UAS) weren’t really part of the equation,” said Whitaker, noting the changing landscape of NextGen. “But it’s difficult to see how we wouldn’t use (ADS-B) to tackle the problems of integrating larger (UAS) into air traffic.” He continued to note that certain issues with (UAS) such as sense and avoid and Air Traffic Control (ATC) would have to be tackled first.

(FAA) officials aren’t being shy about the uncertainty of the NextGen program as well as the program’s numerous shortfalls, but the (FAA) and private partners are forging ahead nonetheless.

“It will not be easy. It will not go perfectly. There will be problems and setbacks, but we’ll get it done,” said Bolton.

Air traffic surveillance and tracking specialist Aireon said it will offer its Aircraft Locating & Emergency Response Tracking (Aireon ALERT) global emergency tracking solution free of charge to the aviation community for any automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) equipped airplanes.

The Aireon (ALERT) service will allow rescue agencies to request the location and last flight track of any 1090 MHz (ADS-B) equipped airplane flying in airspace where airplane surveillance is currently unavailable.

Aireon is deploying a global space-based (ADS-B) surveillance capability aimed at improving the efficiency and safety of airplane operations in oceanic or remote airspace, beyond the range of conventional ground-based surveillance systems. When fully operational, anticipated for 2017, Aireon will create a platform capable of tracking (ADS-B) equipped airplanes around the globe in real time.

The Aireon (ALERT) service will be available soon after Aireon’s full deployment and will be provided through a 24/7 application and emergency call center. Historical track data will be available to pre-authorized users, including (ANSP)s, airlines, plus search & rescue authorities, through Aireon (ALERT) soon after controller communications are lost with an airplane. The system can also provide real-time tracking of airplanes in distress, provided (ADS-B) transmissions are still operational.

October 2014: News Item A-1: The (FAA) said it has sent a plan to Congress for accelerating the implementation of the satellite-based NextGen air traffic control (ATC) system.

NextGen has been criticized by members of Congress and US airlines for being rolled out too slowly and at too high a cost. The (FAA) said collaboration with the NextGen Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from airlines, airports, aerospace manufacturers and labor unions, has enabled it to develop a plan to speed implementation of “high priority, high readiness NextGen initiatives” over the next three years.

According to the (FAA), the (FAA) and “the various components of the aviation industry” will share responsibility “to meet specific milestones, locations, timelines and metrics for [NextGen] initiatives [to] include Multiple Runway Operations, Performance Based Navigation, Surface and Data Communications.”

(FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta said, “We are finishing the foundational pieces of NextGen. Now is the time to increase our focus on deploying benefits and capabilities to the airlines and flying public. Collaboration like this with our stakeholders (airlines, pilots (FC), controllers, manufacturers) is the key to the success of NextGen.”

The (FAA) said it will institute new NextGen procedures at 36 airports “to increase airport efficiency and reduce flight delays. The agency plans to deploy satellite-based navigation procedures known as Performance Based Navigation (PBN) at three key metropolitan areas—northern California, Atlanta and Charlotte—to provide more direct flight paths, improved airport arrival rates, enhanced controller productivity, increased safety due to repeatable and predictable flight paths, fuel savings and a reduction in aviation’s environmental impact. “

The (FAA) added that industry stakeholders “are responsible for ensuring pilot awareness of new runway and airspace procedures, equipping aircraft with DataComm technology, collaborating with the (FAA) on performance based navigation airspace redesign, and data sharing.”

News Item A-2: USA Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx recently awarded $10.2 million (FAA) grants to six airports to reduce emissions and improve air quality through the (FAA)’s Voluntary Airport Low Emission (VALE) program.

(VALE) is designed to reduce all sources of airport ground emissions in areas of marginal air quality. The (FAA) established the program in 2005 to help airport sponsors meet air quality responsibilities under the Clean Air Act. Through (VALE), airport sponsors can use Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds and passenger facility charges to help acquire low-emission vehicles, refueling and recharging stations, gate electrification, and other airport-related air quality improvements.

The airports include: Albuquerque International Sunport ($431,479: — to help the airport upgrade the infrastructure to low-emission technology by replacing four boilers in the airport’s central utility plant); Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International ($102,456: — to enable the airport to purchase two alternative-fuel garbage trucks and convert two passenger vans to cleaner burning fuel instead of diesel); Chicago O’Hare International Airport ($2 million: — to allow the airport to install an underground fuel-hydrant system, eliminating the need for diesel-powered fuel trucks); Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport ($2 million: — to help the airport install 12 electric gates at Terminal B and install and connect seven pre-conditioned air units for parked aircraft); Seattle-Tacoma International Airport ($2 million: — to allow the airport to install 43 charging units in Terminals A and B to support electric ground support equipment (GSE) such as luggage loaders and aircraft tugs); Yeager Airport in West Virginia ($3,678,168: — to fund both gate power units and pre-conditioned air units at seven of the airport’s gates).

“These grants will allow the airports to take advantage of the remainder of the construction season by beginning or completing the construction process,” (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta said. “The airports can continue to be good neighbors to residents in the surrounding communities.”

November 2014: News Item A-1: The federal government is suing Southwest Airlines (SWA) after failing to reach a settlement with (SWA) over allegations that repairs to dozens of planes didn't meet safety standards.

The Justice Department sued (SWA) on Monday November 3rd in the federal district court in Washington state. The lawsuit seeks to enforce $12 million in civil penalties that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced in late July.

The government says that starting in 2006, (SWA) hired a contractor to make extensive repairs on 44 planes to prevent the aluminum skin from cracking. The (FAA) says the contractor, Aviation Technical Services Inc (ATS) (BFG) of Everett, Washington, failed to follow proper procedures.

"We dispute the (FAA)'s allegations and look forward to the opportunity to vigorously defend (SWA)'s record in a court of law," (SWA) spokeswoman, Brandy King said.

The (SWA) case is the second-largest penalty that the (FAA) has ever sought against an airline, behind only a $24.2 million case against American Airlines (AAL).

Typically, airlines negotiate with the (FAA) to reduce the penalties. The (FAA) hit (SWA) with $10.2 million in penalties in 2008, and that case was settled a year later for $7.5 million. The government's decision to sue (SWA) barely three months after announcing the most recent penalty, indicated the wide gap between the two sides.

The most serious allegation in the current case involves replacement of parts of the fuselages on 44 planes. The (FAA) said Aviation Technical Services (BFG) workers under (SWA)'s supervision put sealant under the new skin panels but didn't install all the rivets fast enough for the sealant to be most effective, which could create gaps for moisture to penetrate and cause corrosion.

(SWA) returned the planes to service in 2009 and kept flying some of them for months after the (FAA) warned (SWA) of the improper repairs, the (FAA) said. Regulators approved later repairs.

News Item A-2: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is loosening the age restrictions for older pilots (FC), the (FAA) said on November 12th.

Pilots (FC) over >60 will no longer be required to fly side-by-side with a younger pilot (FC) on international flights to compensate for various physical limitations and health problems they may face after that age.

Starting November 13th, those pilots (FC) will be allowed to fly internationally as long as they have a second pilot (FC) to back them up, regardless of the other pilot (FC)'s age, the (FAA) noted in the Federal Register.

This will ease what's known as the pilot (FC) pairing requirements for older pilots (FC). "Instead, all pilots (FC) serving on airplanes in international commercial air transport operations with more than one pilot (FC) may serve beyond 60 years of age without being paired with a (younger) pilot (FC)," the (FAA) writes.

"Without the pairing requirement, all pilots (FC) on multi-pilot crews (FC)s serving in international air transport commercial operations may continue to serve, as long as they have not reached 65 years of age," the (FAA) adds.

The international rules only apply to pilots (FC) flying overseas, not domestically.

News Item A-3: The Airbus A350-900 has received (FAA) type certification - - SEE ATTACHED PHOTO - - "FAA-2014-11 - FAA TYPE CERT FOR A350-900" with FAA Administrator Michael Huerta on the left and Airbus Group Chairman & (CEO), North American Unit on the right. The certified airplane is powered by Rolls-Royce (RRC) (Trent XWB) engines. This follows the A350-900 type certification awarded by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on September 30.

News Item A-4: The (FAA) is now allowing three parallel “optimized profile descents” into the Washington DC-area’s three major airports, an airspace modification, the (FAA) said will save airlines -2.5 million gallons of fuel per year.

Jet airplanes flying to Washington Dulles (IAD), Washington National (DCA) and Baltimore/Washington (BWI) airports from the northwest are being allowed “to descend from cruising altitude to the runway in a smooth, continuous arc, instead of the traditional staircase descent,” the (FAA) said. The (FAA) is describing the descent lanes as “satellite-based highways in the sky, running side by side, each dedicated to one of the three major airports in the region.”

US Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx said allowance of the parallel descent lanes in the Washington DC region is part of the (FAA(’s ongoing transition to the satellite-based NextGen air traffic control (ATC) system. The airspace modification will “mean increased safety, more on time arrivals and departures, reduced fuel consumption, and reduced pollution-causing emissions,” Foxx said.

The (FAA) said that, as a result of the airspace modification, airlines serving (IAD), (DCA) and (BWI) will burn -2.5 million fewer gallons of fuel and emit “at least” -25,000 fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually. “In addition, voice communications between air traffic controllers and pilots (FC) are greatly reduced, since clearances required during each step of a staircase descent are eliminated,” the (FAA) stated.

The (FAA) added that “complementary, satellite-based departure paths are also being rolled out at the three airports, allowing airplanes to more quickly join high altitude traffic streams.”

Separately, the Department of Defense (DOD), as it usually does, will release to (FAA) unused military airspace from November 26 through November 30 to enable more efficient use of the airspace for commercial traffic in the USA northeast over the busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

December 2014: News Item A-1: See attached "FAA-2014-12 - CARGO FC CREW REST" by Flight International's Jon Hemmerdinger, Washington DC.

January 2015: News Item A-1: To reach the next level of safety, the USA Department of Transportation (DOT)’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on January 8th issued a final rule that requires most USA commercial airlines to have Safety Management Systems (SMS) in place by 2018. The rule builds on the programs many airlines already use to identify and reduce aviation risk.

(SMS) is the formal, top-down, organization-wide approach to managing safety risk and assuring the effectiveness of safety risk controls. (SMS) gives airlines a set of business processes and management tools to examine data gathered from everyday operations, isolate trends that may be precursors to incidents or accidents, take steps to mitigate the risk, and verify the effectiveness of the program. (SMS) requires compliance with technical standards but also promotes a safety culture to improve the overall performance of the organization. It uses four key components: safety policy; safety risk management; safety assurance; and safety promotion.

“Aviation is incredibly safe, but continued growth means that we must be proactive and smart about how we use safety data to detect and mitigate risk,” said USA Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx. “(SMS) gives airlines the tools they need to further reduce risk in commercial aviation.”

The rule requires airlines to implement a safety management system within three years. They must submit their implementation plans to the (FAA) within six months. The rule also requires a single accountable executive to oversee (SMS). An (SMS) defines "what" is expected rather than "how" the requirement is to be met. This allows each air carrier to design an (SMS) to match the size, complexity and business model of its organization. An (SMS) does not take the place of regular (FAA) oversight, inspection and audits to ensure compliance with regulations.

“Our commercial aviation industry is a world-leader and model for risk mitigation, and I’m proud that so many airlines have embraced the (SMS) culture voluntarily. Now, the (FAA) and the air carrier industry are taking the next step,” said (FAA) Administrator, Michael P Huerta. “The (FAA)’s workforce also is transitioning to a proactive, risk-based culture so we can effectively target our resources.”

The aviation industry and federal government reduced the fatality risk in USA commercial air travel by -83% between 1998 and 2008. The industry and government now share a goal to reduce the USA commercial fatality risk by -50% from 2010 to 2025.

“Our members are fierce competitors, but we do not compete on safety, because we know it is our most important job, and there is nothing more important than the safe arrival of our passengers, crew and cargo,” said Airlines for America (A4A) President & (CEO), Nicholas E Calio. “That is why our members adopted this approach long before it became a rule; our work is a driving force as to why the USA industry is the model for the world in aviation safety.”

The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 mandated that the (FAA) develop a rule requiring all Part 121 operators to implement (SMS). The rule is consistent with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)’s standards and responds to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations.

The (FAA) estimates the rule will cost the airlines $224.3 million over 10 years ($135.1 million present value). The (FAA) estimates the benefits will range from $205 million to $472.3 million over 10 years ($104.9 to $241.9 million present value). The (FAA) is offering a federally developed and funded software system to help airlines implement (SMS). The system will cost the (FAA) $2.6 million per year to maintain.

The final rule will be effective within 60 days once it’s published in the Federal Register. More information is available on and the FAA’s (SMS) Office website.

News Item A-2: The (FAA) is proposing new rules for three New York-area airports that would increase slot utilization at the slot-constrained facilities and create a more transparent mechanism for transferring slots.

February 2015: News Item A-1: The (FAA)’s $15.83 billion budget request for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) seeks to patch holes created by chronic under-investment and the 2013 sequestration, while funding what the (FAA) calls a “continued, but measured” path forward.

The overall budget, a slight decrease from (FY15)’s enacted level, includes requests of $9.9 billion for Operations, $2.85 billion for Facilities & Equipment (F&E), $166 million for Research, Engineering, & Development (RE&D), and $2.9 billion in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants.

“After years of underinvestment in sustainment, this modest increase puts us on a slow path to recovery,” according to the (FAA)’s budget request document. “However, real progress on the backlog will require sustained support over several years, complemented by divestiture and decommissioning of infrastructure where feasible.”

The (F&E) budget request is +10% above (FY15)’s level, driven by a +23% increase in facility-related maintenance funds, to $464 million.

“The funding appropriated to (F&E) over the past few years has forced the (FAA) to choose between deferring maintenance of current infrastructure and keeping NextGen progress on track,” the (FAA) explains. The (FY16) request “allows for maintenance of the existing infrastructure as well as forward movement on NextGen, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and commercial space transportation.”

Proposed NextGen funding totals $956 million, distributed among (F&E) programs ($845 million), (RE&D) ($61 million), and Operations activities ($51 million). The total amount is a +12% increase (about $99 million) over (FY15)’s enacted level.

“The budget request prioritizes and funds NextGen program segments such as en route and terminal automation platforms, which are foundational requirements to deliver advanced flight capabilities and decision support tools,” the (FAA) said. “It also requests funding for en route Data Communications segment 1 and for Time Based Flow Management, which is a necessary underpinning program that enables the performance based navigation program to maximize traffic flow into and out of the busy metropolitan airspaces and corresponding airports.”

As expected, the (FAA) is again proposing to reduce the (AIP) grant pool from its $3.35 billion annual level in exchange for more local revenue-generation ability by boosting the passenger facility charge (PFC) cap from $4.50 to $8. Similar proposals in each of the last two years failed to survive Congressional scrutiny.

“We are disappointed that while this proposal modernizes the PFC, it appears to do so at the expense of (AIP),” Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) president and (CEO) Kevin Burke said. “A significant cut like this in (AIP) funding ultimately hurts medium- and small-sized airports that depend the most on this grant funding for necessary capital improvement projects.”

The (FAA)’s Aviation Safety Office (AVS) would get a +3% bump, or about $21.3 million, and 85 additional full-time equivalents (primarily safety inspectors and certification services engineers. The (FAA) cited the ramping-up of efforts to craft rules for civil (UAS) operations as part of the justification for the (AVS) boosts.

The budget also seeks to introduce additional flexibility. “This new authority requested in the budget will allow the (FAA) to transfer up to 10% of any appropriation across accounts, provided that no account is increased by more than >10%,” the budget document stated.

The proposal has 8.6% of the (FAA)’s total budget coming from the general fund, and the balance coming from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. The (FAA)’s (FY15) enacted budget received 7.2% of its balance from the general fund.

News Item A-2: Marion Blakey will be leaving her post as the President & (CEO) of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) to take the position of President & (CEO) of Rolls Royce (RRC) North America. Blakey served a seven-year tenure at (AIA) following her previous five-year term as the (FAA) Administrator.

During her tenure with the (AIA), the organization's support of the advancement of and implementation of different aspects of the (FAA)'s NextGen program was widely recognized by the industry and government officials.

“I’m very proud of (AIA)’s record of achievement these last seven years,” said Blakey. “I’d like to thank (AIA)’s executive committee, board of governors and the entire staff for their guidance, hard work and commitment. I strongly believe we’ve strengthened the (AIA) and better positioned the organization and our member companies to inform and influence the debate on key issues facing our country and our industry in the coming years.”

News Item A-3: The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) will press Congress to adopt regulatory reform and due process protections, encourage bilateral safety agreements and provide necessary resources for the (FAA).

March 2015: News Item A-1: The (FAA) forecasts USA airline passenger traffic will grow +2.5% per year to 1,443 billion (RPM)s in 2035 vs estimated 855.1 billion in 2014 (enplanements will rise from 756.3 million to 1.14 billion); capacity is to increase +2.5% per year to 1,714.4 billion (ASM)s from 1,024.8 billion. The mainline passenger jet fleet is expected to grow to 5,112 airplanes (113 RJs/4,016 narrow bodies/983 wide bodies) vs 3,774 (93/3,160/521).

News Item A-2: The (FAA) has added Boeing (TBC) South Carolina-built 787-9s to the company’s production certificate, PC 700, which allows Boeing (TBC) to produce and deliver the type from the facility.

The (FAA) added 787-8 production to Boeing (TBC)’s PC 700 certificate in July 2012. (TBC) said the certificate is issued once an airplane manufacturer has demonstrated to the (FAA) that its facilities and quality management system meet the (FAA)’s stringent safety and reliability requirements.

The addition of Boeing South Carolina’s 787-9 production to the Boeing production certificate follows a successful (FAA) Manufacturing Inspection District Office audit that validated the site’s compliance with the Boeing Quality Management System.

Boeing (TBC) announced in July 2014 it will build 787-10s exclusively in South Carolina.

News Item A-3: The (FAA) granted 330-minute Extended Twin-engine OPerationS (ETOPS) approval for the Boeing 747-8I Intercontinental, marking the first time a four-engine commercial passenger airplane has gained 330-minute (ETOPS) approval.

Boeing said 747-8I operators will now be able “to fly long-distances more directly on virtually any worldwide city pair routing.” Boeing (TBC) noted that (ETOPS) has been a requirement for twin-engine airplanes since the 1980s, and (FAA) (ETOPS) regulations have recently been applied to four-engine passenger airplanes.

Boeing 747 Program VP & General Manager, Bruce Dickinson said, “Flying long-distance routes directly helps our customers fly even more efficiently, saving fuel and emitting less carbon dioxide.”

According to Boeing (TBC), there are now 83 747-8s in service with 11 customers.

News Item A-4: (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta told Congress “a lot is at stake” in crafting (FAA) reauthorization legislation, particularly regarding the implementation of the NextGen air traffic control (ATC) system.

In testimony before the House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, Huerta urged lawmakers to provide the (FAA) with “stable long-term funding” and operational “flexibility” in reauthorization legislation set to be debated in Congress this year. The (FAA)’s authorization expires September 30th, 2015. “We can’t afford a ‘business as usual’ approach, especially if we want to maintain USA global influence,” Huerta said. “We need reauthorization to allow the (FAA) to better align our resources with the needs of the National Airspace System (NAS) by providing the (FAA) greater flexibility to modify our service levels to support changing industry demand, and by establishing a collaborative, transparent and binding process to modernize (FAA)’s facilities and equipment, and match our footprint to the demand for air travel.”

House (T&I) Committee Chairman, Bill Shuster (Republican - Pennsylvania) and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman, Frank LoBiondo (Republican - New Jersey) both said they do not want a repeat of the last (FAA) reauthorization, which was passed after more than >4 years of rancorous debate, 23 temporary extensions and a partial (FAA) shutdown. The previous reauthorization process “resulted in instability and uncertainty for the (FAA), industry stakeholders and the flying public,” LoBiondo said. “Chairman Shuster and I have repeatedly pledged that such actions will not happen again.”

However, both Shuster and LoBiondo expressed displeasure at the pace with which the satellite-based NextGen system is being rolled out. “We critically need to modernize the (ATC) system, something the (FAA) has been working on since the beginning of the Reagan administration,” Shuster said. “Unfortunately, we have too little to show for it except for cost overruns and delays. As a result, many stakeholders have understandably lost confidence in the (FAA)’s ability to modernize.” He called for “significant reforms in the next (FAA) bill.”

Huerta said that “the network of (FAA) facilities, infrastructure and technology is aging and sprawling, and needs to be addressed,” noting that past “short-term reauthorization extensions have hurt the (FAA)’s ability to efficiently perform our mission, and have impeded our ability to commit to long-term investments.” He said the (FAA) needs “stable, long-term funding to effectively operate our air traffic control (ATC) system, invest in NextGen and efficiently recapitalize our aging facilities. This would best be achieved with the passage of a long-term reauthorization bill that establishes stable long-term funding to provide the certainty necessary to plan and implement long-term projects.”

Huerta said reauthorization should provide a framework for “collaborative efforts with industry stakeholders to implement NextGen,” adding, “We need to continue to ensure that industry makes timely and necessary equipage investments to maximize the widespread deployment of NextGen.”

When questioned by skeptical lawmakers about why Congress should continue to stand by NextGen, given the slow rate of implementation, Huerta responded, “I’d encourage you to hang in there. We are seeing significant benefits all around the country” from NextGen initiatives.

News Item A-5: FlightSafety International has become the first (FAR) Part 142 training provider to be recognized by the (FAA) for meeting its Safety Management System (SMS) requirements.

FlightSafety said it has met the (FAA) Flight Standards (SMS) requirements and the framework established by (ICAO) in its Safety Management Manual. “The components of safety management allow FlightSafety to proactively identify and manage potential safety risks to airplane operations. In addition, (SMS) fosters collaboration with airplane manufacturers, customers, and regulators to ensure safety information is shared throughout the industry,” the aviation training company said.

April 2015: News Item A-1: Media reports: German government Warned of Dangers before MH17 Shootdown" by Karen Walker, (ATW) Editor April 28th, 2015.

The German government had intelligence indicating the danger of surface-to-air missiles in the Ukraine region where Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH17 was shot down last year, according to German media reports.

Flight MH17, a Boeing 777, crashed July 17, 2014 during a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board were killed. Damage found on the airplane wreckage indicated there were impacts from a large number of high-energy objects from outside the airplane, according to a Dutch Safety Board accident report.

The Dutch report also said that three other airliners were in the area when MH17 crashed; one of them, a Boeing 777, was following MH17 on the same track and altitude.

Several German TV channels today released an investigative media reports claiming that German intelligence officials were concerned about the shooting down of an Antonov military jet just three days before the MH17 crash and made those concerns known to the German government. The intel officials believed the Antonov incident had potential safety implications for airliners that regularly flew routes through that same area, over a war-torn region. German media said the officials warned the German government of the potential hazard to airliners.

The need for greater collaboration and information-sharing, over where it is safe to fly has been a key focus area of the (ICAO) task force that was created in the wake of the MH17 shoot-down. The task force wants to find better ways for government and intelligence organizations to share critical information that could help prevent another similar event and has drafted 12 proposals, including one calling for a global (NOTAM) system.

But getting governments and defense agencies round the world to provide that information is a difficult task. USA Director National Intelligence, General James Clapper said last year at the (AVSEC) conference in Washington DC that he strongly supported the concept of multiple intelligence agencies working jointly together as well as vertically with organizations such as the (FAA), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the aviation industry. He has created a dedicated staffer reporting directly to him who is responsible for aviation security liaison. But he also warned that protecting intelligence agents and their technologies was essential.

New, sophisticated intelligence tools and greater cooperation across intelligence agencies is helping to get information on threats sooner. Clapper pointed out that it was these sorts of tools that enabled USA intelligence to know within hours what had happened to MH17.

However, Clapper added, “We also have to protect our people and the sources of our trade craft in order to keep using them. Our adversaries go to school on the lessons of our transparency.”

So, he explained, while he understood the call by the aviation industry for faster, even instantaneous information in the light of MH17, intelligence integration would be “a perpetual journey rather than a destination.”

News Item A-2: "The (FAA), the (NTSB) Remain At Odds On ‘Dive & Drive’ Instrument Approaches" by John Croft, Aviation Daily, April 7th, 2015.

A type of non-precision instrument approach composed of a series of step-down altitudes, informally known as “dive and drive,” remains a point of contention between the (FAA) and the (NTSB) following the August 2013 crash of (UPS) Flight 1354 in Birmingham, Alabama.

To date, the (FAA) has refused an outright ban on the technique, despite nearly a decade of pressure by the (NTSB). (UPS) separately says it plans to prohibit the practice in its pilot (FC) manuals.

In the Birmingham crash, the flight crew (FC) of the Airbus A300-600F freighter had intended to use a more precise non-precision instrument approach technique known as a constant descent final approach (CDFA), but the Captain (FC) ultimately resorted to a dive and drive approach late in the arrival. The airplane hit terrain approximately one mile short of the runway, killing both pilots (FC).

The (NTSB) issued 15 recommendations to the (FAA) following the crash, including one recommendation calling for the (FAA) to prohibit dive and drive approaches, a recurring theme in the (NTSB)’s crash investigations.

The (NTSB) first asked the (FAA) to “develop and encourage” the use of (CDFA) approaches at all airports served by commercial carriers after an American Airlines (AAL) MD-80 struck trees, while on a dive and drive approach to Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Connecticut, in 1995.

After a Korean Airlines (KAL) Boeing 747-300 crashed on approach to Guam in 1997 using the same approach technique, the (NTSB) asked the (FAA) to address the equipment and training needed for (CDFA)s. The (FAA)’s response to both recommendations was considered satisfactory and the issues were considered closed.

However, a controlled-flight-into-terrain crash of a Corporate Airlines Jetstream 32 turboprop on a dive and drive approach into Kirksville, Missouri, in 2004, prompted an (NTSB) recommendation to ban dive and drive techniques altogether, a plea that was superseded by the (UPS) recommendation.

The (FAA) does not agree, stating that while a (CDFA) is the “preferred method” of accomplishing a non-precision approach, dive and drive use should not be prohibited. “In certain situations, primarily dependent on weather conditions and runway alignment in combination with runway visibility, a dive and drive maneuver could benefit an operator,” the (FAA) wrote in its December 2014 final response to the recommendation, noting that potential problems with the technique are spelled out in an Advisory Circular.

“Dive and drive is prudent and safe, when done correctly and under appropriate circumstances.” Based on the response, the (NTSB) recently closed the recommendation as “unacceptable action.”

(UPS), however, appears to be heeding the (NTSB)’s advice. Houston Mills, (UPS) Director of Safety, said in a December letter to the (NTSB) that (UPS) is in the process of “explicitly prohibiting dive and drive maneuvers” in its manuals.

News Item A-3: (NASA) (NAS) has established a public-private partnership with five organizations, including the (FAA), to advance research and certification of composite materials that could improve the performance of future airplanes.

News Item A-4: USA airlines expect that the (FAA) will allow a five-year “grace period” for full compliance with the (FAA)’s 2010 mandate that carriers’ airplanes be Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out capable by January 1, 2020.

Speaking at the Aviation Week Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) Americas conference in Miami, Airlines for America (A4A) Managing Director Maintenance & Engineering, Bob Ireland said airlines have been working with the (FAA) to find a solution to logistical problems with equipping thousands of airplanes with (ADS-B) Out avionics by 2020. He said the (A4A) filed a petition with the (FAA) this month that “we expect” to be accepted, and that would allow airlines to file a plan with the FAA detailing how they will achieve full compliance with the (ADS-B) Out mandate by 2025. An airline’s plan for compliance, if approved by the (FAA), would allow the carrier to be in accordance with the (ADS-B) Out rule.

The (A4A) believes a “five-year transition period” after the January 1, 2020 deadline is needed because of the number of airplanes that need to be retrofitted (4,800 to 5,800) with hardware that in some cases won’t be available by 2020. However, Ireland said, “There is still the expectation that transponders [able to communicate with (GPS) satellites] will be in place [on airplanes] by 2020.”

But the transponders would be able to be wired to older (GPS) units than the (FAA) mandate requires, as long as an airline has an (FAA)-approved plan to have the level of avionics the (ADS-B) Out rule mandates by 2025.

(FAA) Avionics Maintenance Branch Manager, Tim Shaver, also speaking at (MRO) Americas, noted that the (FAA) has done its part by installing over 630 (ADS-B) ground stations in the USA. But he acknowledged that, in terms of equipping the entire USA airline fleet, “it’s not that much time before 2020 will be upon us.” He conceded the (FAA) won’t initially enforce the (ADS-B) Out rule with a “hammer.”

United Parcel Service (UPS) has been at the forefront of (ADS-B) equipage, installing (ADS-B) transponders on more than >200 airplanes, and (UPS) Airlines advanced Flight Manager, Christian Kast said the cargo operator has identified potential problems with the 2020 mandate. For example, under the (FAA) rule, an airplane wouldn’t be allowed to take off if a transponder fail light is illuminated in the cockpit.

But the failure may not be the airline’s fault, Kast pointed out. “It could in fact be that the (GPS) signal is not available,” he said, noting that a tall building near where an airplane is parked could block the signal or there could be GPS jamming occurring in a given area.

“This could be a bad thing,” Kast said. “The transponder fail light might be illuminated and you can’t go.” The (FAA) is “working on resolving that issue before 2020,” he added.

News Item A-5: Lockheed Martin’s En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) system has now replaced the En Route Host computer system that manages traffic in USA airspace at all 20 of the (FAA)’s en route air traffic control (ATC) centers, the (FAA) said.

“This is a really, really big deal,” (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta said. “Now, "Host" is history. We have shut it off. (ERAM) is the only system we’re using to manage air traffic.”

The (FAA) said the computer system used at its high altitude en route centers is the “backbone” of USA (ATC), and the upgrade to (ERAM) will increase airspace efficiency by allowing less separation between flights and improved flight plan processing. “(ERAM) will use satellite technology to give us a much more precise picture of air traffic,” USA Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx said at the (DCA) press conference, adding that (ERAM) will mean fewer flight delays and allow airplanes to burn less fuel.

However, (ERAM)’s deployment comes more than >4 years late and millions of dollars over budget. Huerta said the (FAA), Lockheed and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) union deserve credit for coordinating their efforts to rebound from early problems with (ERAM) deployment, which was originally supposed to be completed by the end of 2010. But he acknowledged a budget overrun of more than >$370 million, about $40 million of which he blamed on budget sequestration-induced delays.

Foxx and Huerta emphasized that they believe (ERAM) will pay off in the long run, noting that it uses less hardware and requires less maintenance than the legacy system it is replacing. It will also provide more accurate tracking of airplanes and give controllers more advanced tools, allowing the entire (ATC) system to operate more cost effectively, according to the (FAA).

Huerta said (ERAM) “gives us a big boost in horsepower over the system we replaced. It processes data from nearly three times the number of sensors” as Host did. The (FAA) Administrator said (ERAM) will be a key enabler of the satellite-based NextGen (ATC) system to which the (FAA) is endeavoring to transition.

“You can kind of think of (ERAM) as a foundational technology,” Huerta said. “We’re building a lot of additional applications on top of it.”

May 2015: News Item A-1: The funding and governance structure of the (FAA) needs to change and air traffic control (ATC) operations should be removed from the (FAA), United Airlines (UAL) Chairman, President & (CEO), Jeffrey Smisek told the USA Senate.

News Item A-2: "(FAA): Boeing 787s Need to be Powered Off Every 120 Days" by Air Transport World (ATW)'s Aaron Karp, May 4, 2015

Boeing (TBC) is working on a software fix for 787 generator control units (GCUs), but in the meantime, the (FAA) has ordered 787 operators to power off 787 Dreamliners at least once every 120 days to avoid the potential loss of electrical power in flight.

During laboratory testing, Boeing (TBC) discovered a problem with 787 (GCU)s: After 248 days of continuous power, all four main (GCU)s will go into failsafe mode simultaneously, which would result in the loss off all electrical power. Boeing (TBC) advised the (FAA) of the problem and the (FAA) has issued an airworthiness directive (AD) with immediate effect that requires “a repetitive maintenance task for electrical power deactivation.”

The (FAA) said the “unsafe condition” justifies waiving the usual notice and comment period on (AD)s. “Loss of all alternating current (AC) electrical power can result in loss of control of the airplane,” the (FAA) said.

The (FAA) said it considers the (AD) an “interim action,” adding, “Boeing (TBC) is currently developing a (GCU) software upgrade that will address the unsafe condition. Once this software is developed, approved, and available, we might consider additional rulemaking.”

In an emailed statement, a Boeing (TBC) spokesperson said, “All airlines have already taken the required action after we notified them two weeks ago. It is important to note this issue was observed in the lab only (after 8 months of continuous power, which would be highly unusual), all operators have already completed the cycle off-cycle on fix, and they know how often they need to do it in the future until the software update arrives later this year. All airplanes in service already have performed a power off/power on cycle in the course of performing maintenance activities, according to Boeing (TBC)’s detailed records of operators’ 787 fleet maintenance.”

News Item A-3: "The (FAA) Approved Beyond Line of Sight, Urban Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) Flights" By: Stephen Trimble Atlanta, May 6, 2015.

The USA Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on May 6th announced an agreement to allow three organizations to begin unmanned air vehicle (UAV) flights on “extended” line of sight, beyond line of sight, and urban operations.

The agreement will allow (BNSF) Railway to operate a small (UAV) on 300 - 400 nm missions inspecting rail lines for obstructions or damaged tracks, said Gary Grissum, the company’s VP Telecommunications. (BNSF) plans to operate the beyond line of sight missions later this year with a still-unselected (UAV) weighing under 55 lb with about 15 hr endurance, he said. To achieve sense and avoid capability, (BNSF) is evaluating localised ground-based radar rather than a chase airplanes, Grissum said.

A lingering concern remains securing bandwidth for the beyond line of sight command and control link, he said. Many rail lines also support cellular network towers, which could also be used to relay commands to (UAV)s over the horizon, he said, but it also may be necessary to re-allocate spectrum specifically for commercial (UAV) operations beyond line of sight.

Meanwhile, (UAV) manufacturer and operator, Precision Hawk also will be allowed to fly extended line of sight missions in the agriculture market, said President, Ernest Earon. The "extended" category means the (UAV) is operated beyond visual range, but within direct line of sight of a ground-based command and control data link, he said.

Finally, the (FAA) also approved (CNN) News to operate tethered (UAV)s for news-gathering purposes over urban areas, said David Vigilante, Senior VP Legal for the (CNN) News network.

The approvals mark the first time that (UAV)s will be allowed to operate beyond visual range or in populated areas, said (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta.

For two years, the (FAA) has approved Insitu to operate the ScanEagle on beyond line-of-sight missions for ConocoPhillips (PHILLIPS/(BPX) SHARED SERVICES AVIATION (ATR)), but flights are limited to a region about 100 nm off the coast of Alaska called the Chukchi Sea.

The new agreement will help the (FAA) gather information on the risks and benefits of beyond line of sight and urban operations, Huerta said.

Meanwhile, the (FAA) is continuing to review comments on a proposed rulemaking that would establish regulations for operating small (UAV)s under <55lb for commercial operations within visual range of the operator, Huerta said.

The (FAA) released the rulemaking in February and the comment period closed on April 24th with more than >4,700 responses, which was actually fewer than the (FAA) had expected, said Jim Williams, Head of the (FAA)’s (UAV) Integration Office.

A normal rulemaking usually takes about 16 months to reach a conclusion after the comment period closes, but some experts expect the (UAV) rule to take 18 - 24 months.

As the rulemaking process grinds on, the (FAA) has cleared so-called Section 333 exemptions for hundreds of companies to operate (UAV)s despite not having an airworthiness certificate.

Some industry officials complain about long delays seeking approvals, but the (FAA) has started to loosen some restrictions. A private pilot license was initially required to operate a (UAV) under an exempting initially, but the (FAA) has started to allow operators with sport pilot licenses that require less training.

Indeed, Dave Vos, Head of Google’s (UAV) package delivery venture called "Project Wing," said that the (FAA)’s attitude has become suddenly more cooperative to the commercial small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) industry within the last two to three weeks.

Williams, however, denied that the (FAA) had softened its policies recently, insisting that it was Vos’ behavior that had recently changed. “It was just in the past few weeks [Vos] started working with us,” Williams said. “[The (FAA)’s cooperation] was there before, but he just didn’t know it.”

News Item A-4: "(FAA) Campaign Emphasizes "No Drone Zone" in the National Capital Region" by Aviation Today, May 14, 2015.

The (FAA) today announced a public outreach campaign for the National Capital Region around Washington, DC to reinforce the message that the District of Columbia and cities and towns within a 15-mile radius of Ronald-Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) are a "No Drone Zone."

“Federal rules prohibit any airplane from operating in the Flight Restricted Zone around our nation’s capital without specific approval,” said USA Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx. “That includes all unmanned aircraft.”

The (FAA) is making outreach materials available to other federal, state and local partners around the National Capital Region to ensure that residents and tourists all understand that operating an unmanned aircraft in this area for any purpose, is against the law.

The airspace around Washington, DC is more restricted than in any other part of the country. Rules put in place after the "9/11" attacks establish “national defense airspace” over the area and limit aircraft operations to those with an (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration authorization. Violators face stiff fines and criminal penalties.

“Anyone visiting the DC area should leave their drone at home,” said (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta. “We want to make sure everyone knows and understands the rules about flying in the National Capital Region.”

As part of its public education efforts, the (FAA) is developing a (GPS)-driven smartphone app to tell recreational unmanned aircraft operators where they can and cannot legally operate. The (FAA) expects to release the app for Apple devices later this year after beta testing is complete.

The (FAA)'s outreach materials can be found at its No Drone Zone webpage.

News Item A-5: The USA (FAA) said it is working with the commercial aviation and medical communities to study the emotional and mental health of USA commercial pilots (FC).

The joint (FAA) and industry group (known as the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST)) recommended the study based on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370, a Boeing 777, which disappeared March 8, 2014 while on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard, and the March 24, 2015 crash of a Germanwings (RFG) Airbus A320 into the southern French Alps, while on a scheduled flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf, killing all 150 people on board. The investigation revealed the co-pilot (FC) intentionally downed the airplane.

The Pilot Fitness Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) will provide the (FAA) with recommendations within six months. The group will include USA and international government and industry aviation experts, including a working group of medical professionals who specialize in aerospace medicine.

According to the (FAA), USA pilots (FC) undergo robust medical screening, but recent accidents in other parts of the world prompted the (FAA) to take a new look at the important issue of pilot (FC) fitness.

“The (ARC) will examine issues including the awareness and reporting of emotional and mental health issues, the methods used to evaluate pilot (FC) emotional and mental health, and barriers to reporting such issues.

“Based on the group’s recommendations, the (FAA) may consider changes to medical methods, airplane design, policies and procedures, pilot (FC) training and testing, training for Aerospace Medical Examiners, or potential actions that may be taken by professional, airline, or union groups. The (ARC)’s meetings will not be open to the public,” the (FAA) said.

Federal Aviation Regulations outline the medical requirements for pilots (FC). The USA airline pilots (FC) undergo a medical exam with an (FAA)-approved physician every six or twelve months depending on the pilot (FC)’s age.

June 2015: News Item A-1: The USA Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed fining FedEx (FED) $58,600, alleging that the freight carrier shipped improperly classified radioactive and hazardous materials on three flights in June and August 2014. The (FAA) said (FED) did not provide pilots (FC) operating the flights with accurate information about materials on board their airplanes.

News Item A-2: "The (FAA) Proposes $266,375 Civil Penalty Against Allegiant Air (WJE)" by Linda Blachly, June 2, 2015.

The (FAA) has proposed a $266,375 civil penalty against Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air (WJE) for allegedly violating drug and alcohol testing regulations.

The (FAA) alleges Allegiant (WJE) “failed to include in its random drug and alcohol testing pools 25 employees that it hired or transferred into safety sensitive positions. Eleven of these employees performed safety-sensitive duties on multiple occasions when they were not in the random pools,” according to an (FAA) statement.

The (FAA) said it also alleges another employee’s follow-up test was not directly observed after a previous positive drug test result as required by USA Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. “That employee performed multiple safety-sensitive duties following the improperly observed test,” the (FAA) alleges.

Allegiant (WJE) VP Safety & Security, Eric Gust said in an emailed statement: “The safety of our passengers and crew is always our number one priority at Allegiant (WJE). We are currently reviewing all of the records and events associated with the (FAA) allegation; however, our initial assessment is that the safety of our operation was not compromised. We are confident that after further investigation and conference with the (FAA), we will be able to resolve all of the allegations to the satisfaction of the (FAA).”

(WJE) is scheduled to meet with the FAA in mid-June to discuss the case.

News Item A-3: The (FAA) has proposed a network security program to improve aircraft cyber security under a new draft Advisory Circular (AC) to create an Airborne Network Security Program (ANSP).

July 2015: News Item A-1: The (FAA) is auditing Thailand’s aviation oversight to determine if the country’s safety rating should be downgraded after (ICAO) found significant safety concerns during an audit early this year, particularly with the airline certification process.

News Item A-2: There were 35 “laser incidents” reported by pilots (FC) in the USA Wednesday night, July 15, including 12 incidents involving airplanes flying over New Jersey, according to the (FAA).

Pilots (FC) from 11 commercial airplanes, including three American Airlines (AAL) flights and two JetBlue Airways (JBL) flights, “reported that lasers illuminated their airplanes, when they flew over New Jersey” between 9 pm and 10:30 pm July 15, the (FAA) said. A USA Coast Guard pilot (FC) also reported a laser incident over New Jersey and reports of 23 other laser incidents around the country were made by pilots (FC).

“None of the flight crews (FC) reported injuries,” the (FAA) said in an email. “Shining a laser into an airplane cockpit is a federal crime and violators may be subject to fines and time in jail. The (FAA) investigates each incident and works closely with law enforcement.”

According to an (FAA) summary of the New Jersey incidents, eight occurred as commercial flights approached Newark International Airport (EWR). All 8 flights’ pilots (FC) reported the incidents occurring as the airplanes were at 3,000 feet. In addition, pilots (FC) operating three commercial flights approaching New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA) reported laser incidents occurring at 9,000 feet. The other New Jersey incident, involving the Coast Guard airplanes, occurred over Ocean City in the southern part of the state.

News Item A-3: "(ALPA): Mandate Collision Avoidance Technology on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)s" by (ATW) Aaron Karp, July 22, 2015.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) is calling for Traffic Collision and Avoidance Systems (TCAS) technology to be mandated on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Speaking Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at the "(ALPA) Air Safety Forum" in Washington DC (two days after a Lufthansa (DLH) Embraer EMB-195 reported a near-miss with a (UAV) on approach to Warsaw) (ALPA) President, Tim Canoll said language requiring that (TCAS) or similar technology be installed on (UAV)s should be included in (FAA) re-authorization legislation that USA Congress is expected to take up later this year. “It’s important that active collision avoidance [technology] be mandated on [UAVs], otherwise these aircraft are invisible to our pilots (FC),” Canoll said, adding that (UAV)s must be required to “use the same rules as we do.”

USA Representative, Peter DeFazio (Democrat-Oregon), delivering a keynote address at the (ALPA) conference, also called for (UAV) regulations to be included in the (FAA) bill. DeFazio is the ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and a key player in the upcoming (FAA) re-authorization debate.

“Basically, you should say nobody should fly a drone that isn’t pre-programmed to avoid restricted airspace,” DeFazio said. “We should register [UAVs] so we can track them back [to owners and operators]. We need to institute a system of meaningful fines and penalties for people who do operate them in restricted airspace.”

DeFazio said there are “a lot of legitimate uses” for (UAV)s, but he expressed concern about the impact unmanned aircraft will have on the safety of commercial aircraft. He said he has requested that the (FAA) do tests on (UAV)s “being sucked into aircraft engines” similar to bird ingestion tests, and has been informed the (FAA) will conduct these tests in the near future.

August 2015: News Item A-1: "(FAA): Air Controllers Now are More Alert" (FAA) Associated Press (AP) Release, August 11, 2015.

The (FAA) believes that "there is greater alertness" among staff members using updated scheduling practices following a previously hidden (NASA) (NAS) study assessing chronic fatigue among air traffic controllers, the (FAA) said in an August 11 press release. (NASA)’s 270-page study was originally kept secret from the public until the Associated Press obtained a draft, after which the FAA posted it on line. On recommendations from (NASA), the (FAA) in 2012 implemented a Fatigue Risk Management System, which changed controllers' work schedules in ways such as requiring nine hours of allotted rest, when a night shift immediately precedes a day shift and allowing controllers to "self-declare fatigue and take time off" to recuperate.

News Item A-2: The (FAA) said an August 15 air traffic control (ATC) system failure was not caused by “any inherent problems” with its new (ATC) computer system.

The failure at the (FAA)’s center in Leesburg, Virginia, led to 492 flight delays and 476 cancellations, according to the (FAA). Washington Dulles, National and Baltimore/Washington airports were the hardest hit.

The (FAA) said that it “is focusing on a recent software upgrade at a high-altitude radar facility in Leesburg, Virginia as the possible source of [the August 15] automation problems. The upgrade was designed to provide additional tools for controllers. The (FAA) has disabled the new features, while the (FAA) and its system contractor complete their assessment.”

In April, Lockheed Martin’s En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) system replaced the En Route Host computer system that manages traffic in (USA) airspace at all 20 of the (FAA)’s en route (ATC) centers, including Leesburg. USA Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx has said (ERAM) will mean fewer flight delays and allow airplanes to burn less fuel.

“There is no indication that the [August 15] problem is related to any inherent problems with the (ERAM) system, which has had a greater than >99.99% availability rate since it was completed nationwide earlier this year,” the (FAA) said.

A Lockheed Martin spokesperson said, “We were alerted to issues with air traffic control affecting cities such as New York and Washington DC. As an (FAA) partner on their NextGen [ATC] modernization efforts, Lockheed Martin engineers and technologists quickly began working with the (FAA) to provide assistance.”

(ERAM)’s deployment came more than >4 years late and millions of dollars over budget.

News Item A-3: The (FAA) has proposed a $325,000 civil penalty against Southwest Airlines (SWA) for allegedly operating a non-compliant Boeing 737 for more than >12 years.

The (FAA) said that one of its safety inspectors conducted an aging airplane inspection on the 737 in July 2014 and discovered (SWA) had failed to both properly inspect and permanently repair a 9 inch crease in the aluminum skin of the aircraft’s rear cargo door. “The inspector discovered that this fuselage damage had first been reported in (SWA)’s maintenance records on May 2, 2002, which is when the airline made [a] temporary repair [to the cargo door],” the (FAA) stated. “The airline was required to inspect the temporary repair every 4,000 flights and complete a permanent repair within 24,000 flights.”

But the (FAA) alleged that (SWA) operated the airplane on 24,831 flights over more than >12 years “without performing the periodic inspections required for the temporary repair” and also “operated the plane on 4,831 flights beyond the flight threshold, by which it was required to have performed the permanent repair.” The required final repair was completed on July 24, 2014, the (FAA) said, adding that (SWA) “has asked to meet with the (FAA) to discuss the case.”

(SWA) said it “was notified of the proposed penalty via a letter from the (FAA) dated July 9, 2015.” (SWA) noted the proposed penalty relates to “a single airplane,” adding that “all issues were promptly addressed to the satisfaction of the (FAA) before the airplane was returned to revenue service” once the “potential deficiency” was discovered during a July 2014 maintenance check.

“There is no impact to any other airplane in our fleet,” (SWA) said. “Safety is the top priority at (SWA), and we always strive for full compliance with established and approved maintenance processes and procedures.” (SWA) confirmed it has requested a meeting with the (FAA) to discuss the issue.

News Item A-4: See attached - - "FAA-2015-08 - ETH-787-Fire Report-A/B.jpg" which covers the British Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) findings regarding the July 2013 fire aboard a Ethiopian Airlines (ETH) 787 Dreamliner parked at London Heathrow (LHR) Airport.

News Item A-5: The (FAA) is investigating whether the city of Dallas failed to properly accommodate Delta Air Lines (DAL)’s request to continue operating flights from Love Field.

September 2015: News Item A-1: The (FAA) will provide $11 million in grant funding for eight USA airports as part of its Runway Incursion Mitigation (RIM) program. The (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds will help identify and mitigate runway incursion risk factors at the eight airports.

The (FAA) announced its (RIM) program in June, working with airport sponsors to identify airports with particular runway incursion problems. The money will be used by the airport sponsors to either study ways of reducing the number of runway incursions at their airports, or to fund projects that will specifically address issues such as unclear taxiway markings, lighting or signage, or confusing taxiway layouts.

The allocations include:

* Waco Regional Airport in Texas will receive $6.4 million to realign a taxiway to bring it up to (FAA) standards;

* Chicago’s Midway International Airport will receive a $600,000 grant to install runway guard lights at a runway and taxiway intersection;

* Philadelphia International Airport will receive a grant of $16,000 for taxiway modifications; and

* Cleveland International Airport will receive $2.3 million to reconfigure several taxiways to eliminate the risk of incursions.

Four airports will receive funding for (RIM) studies. In Texas, these are Dallas Addison Airport ($43,614), Lone Star Executive Airport ($19,693), and Scholes International Airport ($11,693). In California, San Jose International Airport will receive $1.5 million.

The (FAA) said these grant awards were “in keeping with risk-based decision-making principles to proactively address safety risks.”

News Item A-2: The (FAA) has named Marke Gibson and Earl Lawrence to two executive-level positions that will “guide the (FAA)’s approach to safe, timely and efficient integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into USA airspace.”

According to the (FAA), Gibson will become the Senior Advisor on (UAS) Integration, “a position established to focus on external outreach and education, inter-agency initiatives and an enterprise-level approach to (FAA) management of (UAS) integration efforts.” He previously served as Executive Director of the NextGen Institute, which provides professional services to the (UAS) Joint Program Development Office. He has also owned his own aviation consulting firm, and held numerous senior command and staff positions during a 33-year US Air Force career.

The (FAA) said Lawrence will become the Director of the (UAS) Integration Office within the FAA’s Aviation Safety organization. He will lead the (FAA)’s efforts to safely and effectively integrate (UAS) into the nation’s airspace.

During almost five years as Director of the (FAA) Small Airplane Directorate, Lawrence was responsible for 17 aircraft certification and manufacturing district offices in 21 states from Alaska to Florida. Before coming to the (FAA) in 2010, he had been VP Industry & Regulatory Affairs at the Experimental Aircraft Association since 1994.

Both executives will take up their positions later in September.

News Item A-3: USA Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx recently awarded $24.5 million (FAA) grants to 11 airports around the country to reduce emissions and improve air quality. The grants are provided through the (FAA)’s Voluntary Airport Low Emission (VALE) program and Zero Emissions Airport Vehicle (ZEV) programs.

“These programs are crucial to our efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions and make our skies and roads more environmentally friendly,” Foxx said.

(VALE) is designed to reduce all sources of airport ground emissions in areas that do not meet air quality standards. The (FAA) established the program in 2005 to help airport sponsors meet their air quality responsibilities under the Clean Air Act. Through these programs, airport sponsors can use Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds and Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs) to help acquire refueling and recharging stations, electrified gates, low-emission vehicles, and other airport-related air quality improvements.

The (ZEV) program, created through the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, allows airport sponsors to use (AIP) funds to purchase vehicles that produce zero exhaust emissions. (AIP) funds can cover up to 50% of these total project costs. Airport sponsors also can use federal funds to pay for any needed infrastructure construction or modification needed to facilitate the delivery of the fuel and services for these vehicles.

The $23.4 million in (VALE) grants include:

* Chicago O’Hare International, $2 million – to purchase and install 15 ground power units (GPUs) and pre-conditioned air (PCA) units, which will allow aircraft arriving at overnight parking positions to shut off their auxiliary power units (APU)s and connect to a clean central heating and cooling system. The project will save fuel and reduce aircraft emissions on the ground.

* Memphis International, $1.3 million – to purchase and install three (GPU)s and (PCA) units.

* Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall, $2.5 million – to purchase and install eight (GPU)s and eight (PCA)s for passenger gates.

* Phoenix Sky Harbor International, $1 million – to install 28 charging stations in Terminal four for electric ground service equipment.

* Port Columbus International, Ohio, $2.7 million – to purchase and install 13 (GPU)s and 11 (PCA)s at passenger gates.

* Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International, Alabama, $2.6 million – to purchase seven clean fuel burning vehicles and a refueling station.

* Indianapolis International, $3.9 million – to purchase and install 12 (GPU)s and 22 stationary pole lights. The stationary pole lights will replace diesel-powered lights and will help illuminate ramp operations on the cargo apron to improve safety and reduce fossil fuel emissions.

* William P Hobby, Houston, Texas, $1.6 million – to purchase and install five (PCA)s and (GPU)s for passenger gates.

* Cleveland Hopkins International, $1.1 million – to install four (GPU)s and (PCA)s for passenger gates.

The $955,088 in (ZEV) grants include:

* Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, $926,789 – to purchase one electric shuttle bus for passenger service from terminal to terminal and fund infrastructure needed to charge the vehicle, including one wireless inductive charging pad and one long-term charging area.

* Lambert-St Louis International, $28,299 – to fund four electric utility carts for on-airport emergency services, and other uses.

October 2015: News Item A-1: "China-Made ARJ21-700 Regional Jet Set for Delivery, But No USA Certification" by Siva Govindasamy, & Matthew Miller, "Reuters" October 21, 2015.

The (COMAC) (CCC) ARJ21 regional jet, which can seat up to 90 passengers, received the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) type certification last December and will be delivered to launch customer Chengdu Airlines (UEG) shortly, two people familiar with the plane's program told "Reuters."

The plane will fly without USA Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification, despite a five-year effort to have the (FAA) endorse (CAAC)'s certification procedures, the people said.

An (FAA) type certificate would have boosted the reputation of the airplane's developer, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) and cleared the way for the plane to be sold and operated globally (though expectations for foreign sales had been low). Without it, the aircraft can operate only in China and some Asian, African, and South American countries that recognize the (CAAC)'s certificate.

Chengdu Airlines (UEG), a low-cost carrier (lcc), is expected to fly the plane on commercial domestic operations in the first quarter of 2016. (COMAC) has received nearly 350 orders for the ARJ21, mainly from Chinese airlines and leasing firms.

* Shadowing:

Since 2010, the (FAA) has undertaken a shadow certification process to assess the (CAAC)'s ability to conduct a technical assessment of aircraft. But tensions arose between the two regulators last year over various technical and bureaucratic issues, before the process ended in early 2015, those familiar with the program said.

People close to (COMAC) believe the (FAA) also was dragging its feet in part because of bilateral political and economic considerations. "While the (CAAC) wanted to learn from the (FAA), they felt the Americans were too rigid and unnecessarily delaying things. And the longer the delay, the greater the embarrassment to the Chinese," said one of those individuals.

However, a (CAAC) official responsible for certification and people close to the (FAA) stressed that the two regulators were still working to resolve outstanding issues as a "top priority."

In an emailed response to "Reuters" for this article, the (FAA) said the ARJ21 was never intended to be certificated by the (FAA) under the "shadow" evaluation process, and (COMAC) planned a derivative model of the plane to comply with (FAA) standards.

"The (FAA) enjoys a good working relationship with the (CAAC) and we continue to work together to develop a path to work towards certification of the derivative model of the ARJ21 and, possibly, the C919," the (FAA) said, referring to the C919 narrow-body jet, China is developing to compete with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 models.

Also, the (FAA) said it could certify an airplane, after it enters service, if it can be shown to comply with all relevant airworthiness and manufacturing standards.

* Aviation Cooperation:

Putting the ARJ21 into service without (FAA) certification would be a setback to USA and China aviation cooperation, arguably one of the outstanding achievements, since the two governments re-established diplomatic relations in 1979.

Chinese airlines have bought hundreds of Boeing (TBC) jets as the country's aviation sector opened up and boomed, and Boeing (TBC) plans to open a completions and delivery center in China for its 737 airplane, its first plant outside the USA.

USA aerospace firms have also invested heavily in China, and companies such as General Electric (GE), Rockwell Collins, Honeywell (SGC), and United Technologies (PRW) are suppliers for the ARJ21 and C919 jet.

"It could be seen as a loss of face for the Chinese, given they deem (FAA) certification, a key rite of passage for what will be the first domestically built jet to enter commercial service," said Greg Waldron, Asia Managing Editor at Flightglobal, an industry news and data service.

(COMAC) could eventually ask the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to certify the ARJ21, once it has been delivered, and ask it to help with the C919 as well, people familiar with the program said.
"Given the effort and prestige, China is pouring into the C919, obtaining (FAA) or (EASA) certification is a definite requirement both for the image of the program, and the ambition to garner foreign sales," said Waldron.

"We don't know if and when the Chinese authority will apply to us for a certification," an (EASA) spokesman said.

* "Learning Experience:"

China has been working for 40 years to produce and deliver a homegrown commercial airliner.

It first developed the Y-10, a four-engined jet, in the 1970s, but never delivered it to customers. It has exported some MA-60 turboprop planes, a civil version of the license-produced Soviet-designed Antonov AN-24 military transport.

(COMAC) plans to eventually upgrade the ARJ21, so it's closer in performance to regional jets made by Embraer (EMB), Mitsubishi Aircraft (MRJ), and Bombardier (BMB).

The current version of the ARJ21 and the program itself, is a "learning experience," said Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst at the Teal Group. "Any airline forced to operate this jet, will be at a severe competitive disadvantage against any airline with a modern aircraft."

That means China's hopes may rest on the C919.

(COMAC) aims to complete its flight test and certification program in less than half the time it took with the ARJ21, say those familiar with the company's plans. "It has engaged foreign suppliers experienced in global aircraft programs with Airbus (EDS) and Boeing (TBC) much earlier, and they're far more involved in the C919," said one of those familiar with the program.

"(FAA) or (EASA) certification would legitimize the program and create interesting new opportunities for China's aerospace sector. Such certification would be a watershed development," added Waldron at Flightglobal.

News Item A-2: "The (FAA) is to Require Registration for Unmanned Aircraft" by (ATW) Linda Blachly, October 19, 2015.

The (FAA) will create a task force to develop recommendations for a registration process for unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV)s, USA Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx and (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta announced on October 19, 2015.

According to an (FAA) statement, the task force will be composed of 25 to 30 diverse representatives from the (UAV) and manned aviation industries, the federal government, and other stakeholders.

“The group will advise the department on which aircraft should be exempt from registration, due to a low safety risk, including toys and certain other small (UAV)s,” the (FAA) said, adding the task force also will explore options for a streamlined system, that would make registration less burdensome for commercial (UAV) operators.

The task force may also make additional safety recommendations. Foxx directed the group to deliver its report by November 20.

“Registering unmanned aircraft will help build a culture of accountability and responsibility, especially with new users who have no experience operating in the USA aviation system,” Foxx said. “It will help protect public safety in the air and on the ground.”

The (FAA) said that every day it receives reports of potentially unsafe (UAV) operations. Pilot (FC) sightings of (UAV) has doubled between 2014 and 2015. The reports ranged from incidents at major sporting events and flights near manned aircraft, to interference with wildfire operations.

“These reports signal a troubling trend,” Huerta said. “Registration will help make sure that operators know the rules, and remain accountable to the public for flying their unmanned aircraft responsibly. When they don’t fly safely, they’ll know there will be consequences.”

While the task force does its work, the (FAA) said it will continue its aggressive education and outreach efforts, including the “Know Before You Fly” campaign and “No Drone Zone” initiatives with the nation’s busiest airports. The (FAA) also will continue to take strong enforcement action against egregious violators. At the same time, it will continue working with stakeholders to improve safety to ensure further integration and innovation in this new segment of aviation.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) President, Tim Canoll said (ALPA) “fully supports Secretary Foxx’s decision to create a task force that will recommend procedures and a policy for creating a national registration database for all (UAV)s. We look forward to engaging in discussions with this task force in developing the procedures necessary to ensure we maintain the highest levels of safety of our aviation system.”

News Item A-3: The (FAA) has upgraded airlines in the Republic of Nicaragua to a Category 1, as it now complies with (ICAO) safety standards.

The (FAA) said it first assessed the Republic of Nicaragua in 1994 and found it did not meet international standards. “While under a Category 2 rating, the country either lacked laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or its Civil Aviation Authority (a body equivalent to the (FAA) for aviation safety matters) was deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping, or inspection procedures,” it said.

The (FAA) said the Category 1 status is based on a June 2015 (FAA) assessment of the safety oversight provided by the Nicaraguan Institute of Civil Aviation. “During a September 2015 follow on visit to the Republic of Nicaragua, the (FAA) verified the necessary corrective actions,” the (FAA) said.

November 2015: News Item A-1: "Foxx Touts NextGen (ATC) Progress, - Calls for Stable (FAA) Funding."

USA Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx said the (FAA) is making significant progress modernizing air traffic control (ATC), but continues to be hampered by a lack of stable funding.

News Item A-2: The (CFM) International (LEAP-1A) engine, one of two engine choices on the Airbus A320neo, has been jointly certified by the (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Airbus (EDS) is set to deliver the first A320neo (powered by Pratt & Whitney (PRW) (PW1100G) engines) to Qatar Airways (QTA) next month. The (LEAP-1A)-powered A320neo began flight testing in May. “It has been an incredible journey for the entire (CFM) team to get the engine to this point,” (CFM) Executive VP, Francois Bastin said, adding, “The (LEAP) engine includes many industry first technologies and the agencies have worked with us from the beginning to validate the certification plan for these advancements.”

The (CFM) (LEAP-1B) is the sole-source engine for the Boeing 737 MAX; it flew for the first time on a 747 flying testbed in April. (CFM) is a joint venture (jv) between (GE) Aviation (GEC) and Snecma.

Two (LEAP-1A)-powered A320neo flight test aircraft have totaled more than >140 flights spanning 360 hours of flight testing. (CFM) Executive VP, Allen Paxson said, “The (LEAP-1A) is doing extremely well in flight tests on the A320neo; the reliability we designed for this engine is definitely there.”

December 2015: News Item A-1: The (FAA) has downgraded Thailand’s aviation safety rating, a move widely expected, following audits of the Thai regulator by the (FAA) and (ICAO).

The downgrade means Thailand is rated as Category 2 instead of Category 1 under the (FAA)’s International Aviation Safety Assessment program. Such a rating reflects oversight deficiencies with national aviation authorities rather than problems with specific airlines. However, airlines are most affected as they are not allowed to introduce new service to the USA.

A team from the (FAA) visited Thailand to conduct its audit in the week of July 13, and found oversight concerns. The Thai government was given a set period of time to attempt to address these issues.

Thai Airways (TII) was the only Thailand-based carrier serving the USA, with a route to Los Angeles, but it canceled that flight in October. However, the (FAA) was well into its audit when the route cut was announced.

Safety issues were first identified by (ICAO) in March, after a scheduled audit of Thailand’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA). (ICAO) identified what it categorized as significant safety concerns (SSCs) mainly relating to how the state certifies its airlines. These concerns range from staffing levels to manuals and procedures.

After the (DCA) was informed, it was given 90 days to resolve the (SSC)s. While it took some measures that would allow it to start recertifying all of its airlines, it did not do enough to meet the deadline. So in June, Thailand became the 13th nation to be “red-flagged” on (ICAO)’s aviation safety list.

The red flag status does not in itself impose any restrictions, but it serves as a guide to national aviation authorities. Japan was among the first to respond, blocking most charter flights and preventing Thai carriers from starting new services. Others, including Korea, took similar steps.

News Item A-2: Southwest Airlines (SWA) and the USA have settled a lawsuit involving allegations (SWA) operated numerous 737 airplanes that did not conform to USA Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintenance standards and were therefore not airworthy.

In November last year, the USA Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a USD12 million lawsuit against (SWA) for three separate types of maintenance violations. The first two categories of violations related to approximately forty-four un-airworthy airplanes that (SWA) flew prior to and throughout 2009, whose fuselages had been improperly maintained by, first, improperly installing fasteners and, second, improperly supporting (shoring) the airplanes during maintenance. The third category of violations involved (SWA) flying two airplanes in 2012, whose drain masts had been improperly altered.

The USA government claimed that (SWA), despite having outsourced its Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) requirements to Aviation Technical Services Inc (BFG) of Everett, Washington, was still liable for the improper repairs done by the contractor as it is ultimately responsible for (SWA)'s proper maintenance.

However, following talks between the two parties, the (DOJ) announced that (SWA) had agreed to pay a USD2.8 million civil penalty and up to USD5.5 million in deferred civil penalties, should it fail to implement operational changes as required by the settlement agreement. (SWA) is required to overhaul its operational protocols aimed at enhancing its oversight of and control over third parties that perform maintenance on its airplanes.

“The Justice Department believes the settlement agreement with (SWA) will provide meaningful improvements in safety and compliance and further ensure the integrity of (FAA) air safety regulations,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Benjamin C Mizer, Head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said.

Though a trial had been scheduled for March 14, 2016, company and government lawyers notified USA District Court Judge, John Coughenour in Washington State that they had reached a settlement.

In 2008, the USA Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sought USD10.2 million in civil penalties from (SWA) for neglecting to inspect the fuselages of 46 of its planes. The two later settled for USD7.5million.

January 2016: News Item A-1: "Unmanned Aircraft Registration System Takes Flight" by, January 4, 2016.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) new web-based registration system for small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) is now active. Hobbyists and recreational users who fly (UAS), which include remote controlled aircraft, may register at

Owners must register small (UAS) weighing more than >0.55 pounds/250 grams and less than <55 pounds/approx 25 kg if they are to be flown outdoors for hobby or recreation. Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx and (FAA) Deputy Administrator, Mike Whitaker announced the rule requiring registration earlier this month.

Aircraft operated by the current owner before December 21, 2015 must be registered no later than February 19, 2016. For all others, registration is required prior to the first outdoor flight. Owners must provide their complete name, physical address, mailing address (if different), and a valid email address to register.

Federal law requires a $5 registration fee that will be collected at the time of registration via credit card. To encourage speedy compliance, the (FAA) is making the process free for the first 30 days. (The registration website will initially charge the owner’s credit card $5, but a refund credit will appear shortly afterward.)

After completing registration, owners will receive a personal registration number. If a person owns more than one small (UAS), each aircraft must be marked with that number. Any method may be used to mark the (UAS), as long as the number is legible.

Registrants may put the number in the battery compartment if it is easily accessible.

The (FAA) will immediately email a certificate containing the holder’s name, registration number, and the dates of issuance and expiration. The operator must keep either a printed or electronic version of this certificate on hand for inspection as proof of registration. Registration must be renewed every three years. If assistance is needed with registration, email

The full rule can be viewed here:

A Registration (FAQ) with answers to most common questions is at:

News Item A-2: "Airbus (EDS) Defense & Space Displays Counter-(UAV) System at Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Quick-Response Protection Against Micro-Drones", January 6, 2016.

Airbus Defense & Space, Inc has developed a Counter-(UAV) System which detects illicit intrusions of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) over critical areas at long ranges and offers electronic countermeasures minimizing the risk of collateral damage.

"All over the world, incidents with universally available small drones have revealed a security gap with regards to critical installations such as factories, airports or nuclear plants," said Thomas Müller, Head of Electronics & Border Security at Airbus Defence and Space. "As a specialist in defense electronics, we have all the technologies in our portfolio and the integration knowledge which are needed to set up a quick-response protection system with extremely low false alarm rates."

The system offers very high effectiveness by combining sensor data from different sources with latest data fusion, signal analysis and jamming technologies. It uses operational radars, infrared cameras and direction finders from Airbus Defence & Space's portfolio to identify the drone and assess its threat potential at ranges between 3.1 and 6.2 miles/5 and 10 Km).

Based on an extensive threat library and real-time analysis of control signals, a jammer interrupts the link between drone and pilot and/or its navigation. Furthermore, the direction finder tracks the position of the pilot, who subsequently can be dealt with by law enforcement. Due to the Smart Responsive Jamming Technology developed by Airbus Defence & Space, the jamming signals are blocking only the relevant frequencies used to operate the drone while other frequencies in the vicinity remain operational. Since the jamming technology contains versatile receiving and transmitting capabilities, more sophisticated measures like remote control classification and (GPS) spoofing can be utilized as well. This allows effective and specific jamming and, therefore, a takeover of the (UAV).

News Item A-3: " FAA Registered Nearly 300,000 Unmanned Aircraft Owners During First 30 days" by, January 26 2016.

Nearly 300,000 owners have registered their small unmanned aircraft in the first 30 days after the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) online registration system went live. Owners who registered in the first month received a refund for the $5 application fee.

“I am pleased the public responded to our call to register,” said USA Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx. “The National Airspace System is a great resource and all users of it, including (UAS) users, are responsible for keeping it safe.”

The (FAA) continues to see a steady stream of daily registrations. While the refund period has expired, the fee will still cover all the small unmanned aircraft that owners intend to use exclusively for recreational or hobby purposes.

“The registration numbers we’re seeing so far are very encouraging,” said (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta. “We’re working hard to build on this early momentum and ensure everyone understands the registration requirement.”

The (FAA)’s registration rule, which took effect on December 21, 2015, applies to small unmanned aircraft that weigh between 0.55 lbs and 55 lbs. Owners of these aircraft must register before they fly outdoors. People who operated their small unmanned aircraft before December 21 must register by February 19, 2016. The current online system is only available for owners who intend to use their small unmanned aircraft exclusively for recreational or hobby purposes. The (FAA) is working to make the online registration system available for non-model aircraft users (such as commercial operators) by March 21.

Registration is simple and is done online. Once the owner enters the required information (complete name, mailing address, physical address, and email address) they receive a registration number and certificate that they can print out. The certificate includes the registration number that must be marked on all aircraft that meet the registration requirement. Registration is valid for three years.

In addition to being an education opportunity, registration helps new flyers become part of the safety culture that has been deeply embedded in traditional aviation for more than a century, while still allowing for the recreation and innovation that are staples of American aviation.

To register, go to:

News Item A-4: "The (FAA) Proposes $417,500 Civil Penalty Against FedEx (FED)" by (ATW) Linda Blachly, January 15, 2016.

The (FAA) has proposed a $417,500 civil penalty against FedEx (FED) for allegedly operating an airplane that was not in compliance with federal aviation regulations.

The (FAA) said it alleges that FedEx (FED) “failed to rebalance a horizontal stabilizer tab control surface on a Boeing 727 after repainting the part. The Boeing 727 Structural Repair Manual identifies the work as a major repair and requires rebalancing the control surface after the work is done.”

According to the statement, the (FAA) “alleged that FedEx (FED)’s failure to perform the rebalancing requirements rendered the airplane unairworthy and that the company operated the airplane on at least 133 flights, when it was in that condition."

News Item A-5: "Very Shaky Start for Anti-USA (ATC) Privatization Coalition" by (ATW) Aaron Karp in AirKarp Blog, January 26, 2016.

A new coalition opposed to USA Air Traffic Control (ATC) “privatization” held a conference call with media to emphasize how well the existing structure of the (FAA) is working and how the current (ATC) management setup should be protected in upcoming (FAA) re-authorization legislation. It touted two members of the USA House of Representatives who were on their side, and gave those members most of the speaking time on the conference call.

The members of Congress, Representative Elijah Cummings (Democrat-Maryland) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (Democrat-Washington DC), then proceeded to use much of their time to explain, well, that the current (FAA) structure is actually pretty problematic. Talk about a lack of message discipline!

There was a bizarre disconnect between several representatives from Washington DC-based advocacy groups, who have come together to create a coalition called "Americans Against Air Traffic Privatization (AAATP)," and Cummings and Norton, who were put forward by the (AAATP) as backers of their cause.

Whereas the (AAATP) spokespeople slammed (NAV) Canada and the UK’s (NATS), Norton said, “I would like more hearings to learn more of what Canada and England have done” regarding (ATC). When I asked Norton whether she would oppose any (FAA) re-authorization bill that included a plan to separate (ATC) from the (FAA) (to which the (AAATP) spokespeople said they are strongly opposed) Norton said, “I can’t tell you I’m opposed to X or Y.”

She then pointed to “great problems” with the way the (FAA) has implemented NextGen (ATC) modernization and added, “So we’ve got big problems with the (FAA).” Regarding the (ATC) structure (AAATP) wants to fiercely protect, she said, “You will not find many members [of Congress] saying, ‘Hey, we like it the way it is’.”

Norton, in fact, said it would be a mistake for Congressional Democrats to “look like we’re for the status quo.” But (AAATP) is basically saying it wants the status quo!

Cummings, for his part, was a bit closer to the (AAATP) line, saying the (ATC) “system that we have now has been a very strong, effective and efficient system.” But he acknowledged, “We are kind of arguing against something we don’t know all about.” In other words, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman, Bill Shuster (Republican-Pennsylvania) has not yet made his (ATC) reform proposal public, so (AAATP) is (rather forcefully (in a way that could make negotiations difficult)) arguing against what it thinks the proposal might include.

But Cummings said that if Bill Shuster put his “arguments” for (ATC) reform on the table, he and other Democrats are willing to talk—again, a departure from (AAATP). “It’s never been about [Democrats] being the party of no,” Cummings said, adding, “Let’s discuss [Bill Shuster’s proposal].”

Cummings put his finger on why (AAATP) sounds so shaky: “When you are arguing a case when you don’t know what it’s all about, it’s very hard.”

Part of the burden here is on Bill Shuster. It is time for him to put his proposal on the table. Washington is full of people who take sides for a living. “(ATC) privatization,” sans details, can sound pretty scary for groups that normally argue on behalf of consumers. So people are starting to argue against it before they “know what it’s all about,” in the words of Cummings.

Coalitions like (AAATP) can argue against a frightening boogeyman as long as there is no concrete proposal on the table. The problem for Bill Shuster and advocates of (ATC) reform is that if he waits too long to put out a proposal and start negotiations, too many people in Washington (both inside and outside Congress) will already be totally invested in being AGAINST, no matter what he proposes.

I think it’s overblown to talk about Washington’s “good old days” of bipartisanship. The USA is a vibrant democracy and there needs to be robust arguments about public policy. BUT those arguments should be based on facts and reason. The problem in Washington is not really a lack of bipartisanship. It is that far too many people in This Town are willing to make fools of themselves just so they can be FOR or AGAINST something, without caring at all about the details of what they are for or against.

February 2016: News Item A-1: "Three Former USA Transportation Secretaries Call for (ATC) Reform" by (ATW) Aaron Karp, February 1, 2016.

A group comprising eight former senior USA government officials, including three Secretaries of Transportation, and two former USA senators, are urging Congress to spin off air traffic control (ATC) from the (FAA).

In a February 1 letter to the USA House of Representatives, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman, Bill Shuster (Republican-Pennsylvania), the group called for Congress to “preserve the (FAA)’s safety oversight of (ATC), while moving the operating and funding of (ATC) to a federally chartered, non-profit organization that would be governed by the stakeholders and users of our nation’s aviation system.” Bill Shuster is expected to soon propose an (FAA) re-authorization bill that will include a major reform of how the USA (ATC) is structured and managed.

The letter’s signatories, which include former USA Secretaries of Transportation, James Burnley, Mary Peters, and Norman Mineta, endorse an (ATC) restructuring plan in line with one favored by major USA airlines, with the notable exception of Delta Air Lines (DAL). Other signatories include former USA Senate majority leader, Trent Lott (Republican-Mississippi); former Senate Aviation Subcommittee Chairman, Byron Dorgan (Democrat-North Dakota); former (FAA) Administrator, Randy Babbitt; Dorothy Robyn, who was a Senior Economic Advisor to President Bill Clinton; and three former (FAA) Chief Operating Officers: Russell Chew, Hank Krakowski, and David Grizzle.

The group told Shuster “bold action” is needed because USA (ATC) infrastructure and technology are “falling behind.” The USA (ATC) system is the world’s largest and safest, but it is “regrettably” no longer the “gold standard,” the group wrote, adding that “budget unpredictability and a bureaucratic organization structure have slowed progress in implementing next-generation technologies and inhibited our ability to properly staff facilities and procure the best equipment for our nation’s air traffic controllers.”

Opposition to Bill Shuster’s expected (ATC) reform has already formed; a coalition calling itself Americans Against Air Traffic Privatization (AAATP) last week, indicated it would push back hard against any attempt to spin off (ATC) from the (FAA) to create a (NAV) Canada-like entity in the USA. Andrea Miller, co-Executive Director of the advocacy group, People Demanding Action and part of the (AAATP) coalition, said that “no matter how you spin [separating (ATC) from the (FAA)], we know what to call it. It’s privatization.”

The group writing the letter to Bill Shuster noted they include both Republicans and Democrats. “This is not about politics - - It is about policy,” they said, adding that creating a separate organization to manage (ATC) is needed to “preserve the safety and efficiency” of air navigation in the USA.

News Item A-2: "Bill Shuster Proposes (FAA) Reauthorization Bill Removing (ATC) from the (FAA)" by (ATW) February 3, 2016.

USA House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman, Bill Shuster (Republican-Pennsylvania) has proposed legislation that would remove the operation and management of USA Air Traffic Control (ATC) from the (FAA).

The centerpiece of a seven-year re-authorization of the (FAA) proposed February 3 by Bill Shuster is the creation of a “federally chartered, fully independent, not-for-profit corporation” to operate and manage (ATC). The entity, which appears to be modeled after (NAV) Canada, would be “free from the bureaucratic inertia and funding uncertainty that have plagued the (FAA) for decades,” according to a summary of the proposed legislation provided by Bill Shuster.

The new (ATC) corporation, which would go live on October 1, 2019, “will be governed by a board representing the aviation system’s users and the public interest,” according to Bill Shuster, who added that the bill is drafted to “prevent conflicts of interest, political interference, and board domination by any one group.”

According to the text of the proposed bill, the group nominating the (ATC) corporation’s board members would include a representative of the federal government, a representative of mainline airlines, a representative of noncommercial general aviation (GA) users, an air traffic controller labor representative and a pilot (FC) labor representative. The 11-member board itself would be comprised of a (CEO), two directors appointed by the nominating committee’s federal government representative, four directors appointed by the mainline airline representative, two directors appointed by the (GA) representative, one director appointed by the air traffic controller labor representative and one director appointed by the pilot (FC) labor representative.

“We have the safest [ATC] system in the world, and we will continue to do so under this bill,” Bill Shuster said, when releasing the proposed bill. “But our system is incredibly inefficient, and it will only get worse as passenger levels grow and as the (FAA) falls further behind in modernizing the system. The legislation recognizes that maintaining the status quo will result in more setbacks and soaring costs of failed federal (ATC) modernization efforts, a bureaucracy that continues to stifle American innovation, and a system that is incapable of handling growing demand.”

He added, “Establishing an independent (ATC) provider has become the standard across the world, and the USA is one of the last industrialized nations yet to do so. Countries that have done so have consistently benefited from safety levels that have been maintained or improved, successful modernization of their (ATC) systems, improved (ATC) services, and generally lower (ATC) service costs.”

A group including three former USA Transportation Secretaries, former (FAA) Administrator Randy Babbitt and three former (FAA) (COO)s endorsed spinning off (ATC) from the (FAA) earlier this week. USA airlines, minus Delta Air Lines (DAL), have also endorsed a proposal in line with Bill Shuster’s.

But opponents of Bill Shuster’s proposal, which has been expected, have been lining up. They include members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees (both Republicans and Democrats) who believe “the annual oversight and funding role of Congress is critical in the operation of our nation’s air traffic system,” according to a letter sent to Congressional leaders by House Appropriations Committee Chairman, Harold Rogers (Republican-Kentucky) and ranking member Nita Lowey (Democrat-New York).

A coalition of advocacy groups calling itself Americans Against Air Traffic Privatization (AAATP) recently came out strongly against what it called a “misguided ploy to disrupt a system that’s working well for the American people.”

News Item A-3: "USA Airlines Back Bill Shuster’s (ATC) Plan, but Opposition Mounts" by (ATW) Aaron Karp, February 3, 2016.

USA airlines (minus Delta Air Lines (DAL)) quickly lined up behind a proposal to separate USA air traffic control (ATC) from the (FAA), but others, including the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), expressed misgivings.

USA House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman, Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) proposed an (FAA) re-authorization bill that includes major (ATC) reform, including the creation of an 11-member board of directors to oversee an independent, not-for-profit entity to manage and operate (ATC). “This is a historic day,” Airlines for America (A4A) President & (CEO), Nicholas Calio said. “A more efficient system with proper governance, funding and accountability will bolster our nation’s first-rate safety record and result in more choice, more direct trips, lower fuel consumption, reduced emissions, and fewer flight delays.”

Under Shuster’s proposal, four of the 11 members of the governing board would be appointed by an airline industry representative. Calio noted that Shuster’s proposal “is only the beginning of the [(FAA) re-authorization] process,” but said the bill puts forward “the most significant reforms to the USA aviation system in decades.”

(ALPA) said Shuster’s (ATC) proposal appears to include “appropriate safety measures,” but does not fairly spread the burden to finance the independent (ATC) corporation. “This version of a new (ATC) would require that commercial air carriers shoulder the financial responsibility of supporting the operation, instead of having all users pay into the system,” (ALPA) President, Tim Canoll said.

"Americans Against Air Traffic Privatization" spokesperson, Julia Alschuler called the proposed bill “a bad bet for the American people,” arguing that “Bill Shuster’s proposal to privatize the (ATC) will dismantle a system already working and will leave Americans vulnerable to an organization controlled by the airline industry.”

Bill Shuster’s plan is also opposed by leading members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, including both Republicans and Democrats.

News Item A-4: "Bill Shuster’s ATC Proposal Gets Big Boost From Air Controllers Union" by (ATW) Aaron Karp, February 4, 2016.

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), the union representing 19,000 USA air traffic controllers, is backing Representative Bill Shuster’s (Republican-Pennsylvania) proposal to separate (ATC) from the (FAA).

The (NATCA)’s support for Bill Shuster’s proposed (FAA) re-authorization legislation (which includes a plan to create a federally chartered, not-for-profit entity to operate and manage USA (ATC)) provides a big boost for the House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman’s prospects of getting the bill passed.

(NATCA)’s opposition would have been a formidable obstacle for Bill Shuster to overcome. But the union’s support means the employees most directly affected by the proposal don’t see it as a jobs killer, and that the people managing air traffic on a day-to-day basis don’t believe it will compromise the (ATC) system’s safety or efficiency. It also puts a coalition of normally pro-union advocacy groups opposing the bill in an awkward political position.

Importantly, (NATCA) does not believe “privatization” is a proper way to describe Bill Shuster’s proposal. “This legislation proposes a federally chartered, not-for-profit corporation to operate the [National Air Space],” (NACTA)’s executive board said in a message to the union’s members. “We want to be very clear on this point: this is NOT a for-profit model. As we’ve said throughout this process, that would be something we would oppose. Many voices in the public discussion of this issue, including the news media, will continue to use the word privatization to describe this bill. But to us, privatization has always meant a profit motive, where safety is not the top priority. That definition does NOT fit this bill. We support this bill because it does make safety the top priority.”

(NATCA) said the proposed change to how (ATC) is managed and operated “does not harm our members,” adding, “After carefully looking at the language, this bill does protect our workforce (including your pay, benefits, retirement and collective bargaining rights. If this bill, as written today, becomes law, employees will be kept whole.”

(NATCA) noted that Bill Shuster’s proposal “is just one step in the lawmaking process” that is also expected to include a Senate version of (FAA) re-authorization and an alternate (ATC) reform proposal from House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee ranking member, Peter DeFazio (Democrat-Oregon).

“We will continue to vigorously and carefully review this legislation at all times and push for its improvement,” (NATCA) said. “If at any time there are changes to this bill, we will immediately examine them to ensure the bill continues to align with our organization’s policies, practices and principles. We reserve the right to withhold our support if any changes cause the bill to violate our principles.”

News Item A-5: "(ALPA): Congress Should Mandate Online Training for (UAV) Operators" by (ATW) Aaron Karp, February 1, 2016.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) wants Congress to mandate that small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) owners pass an online training course before being allowed to operate their devices.

The proposal, outlined by (ALPA) President Tim Canoll during a February 1 briefing with journalists in Washington DC, calls for (UAV) owners to be required to gain a “key code” by passing an online training course. Small (UAV)s, like those being sold by retailers like Walmart, would not be able to be operated until the correct key code is plugged into the device via a mechanism that would have to be created by (UAV) manufacturers.

“I’d like [(UAV) manufacturers] to voluntarily do it, but I believe if we could mandate it, it would take a lot of pressure off them,” he said, noting the federal government “would have to outline what the education curriculum is” for the online training course. Canoll said the mandate should be included in (FAA) reauthorization legislation expected to be taken up by Congress later this year.

Canoll acknowledged that “there is no answer” for retroactively requiring small (UAV) owners who already own devices, to pass the online test. “All you can do going back is encourage them to take the online test” if and when it is created, he said.

Canoll said the online test/key code proposal would be another “layer” of safety to help prevent a collision between a small (UAV) and a commercial airliner. He said the proposal would build on the mandatory registration process for recreational (UAV)s weighing between .55 lbs and 55 lbs created late last year by the (FAA).

Canoll noted he has used (FAA)’s online (UAV) registration process himself. “I’m registered,” he said. “It was super easy to register and mark up my Phantom 3 drone with a number” provided by the (FAA).

Those who owned small (UAV)s prior to December 21 have until February 19 to register the devices with the (FAA). The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) has said it does not believe its members should be subject to the (FAA)’s registration rule. But the organization said in a statement that its exploration of “all legal and political options available may take time and a definitive solution is unlikely before the February 19 registration deadline. Therefore, (AMA) members are now required by regulation to register their aircraft with the (FAA) to avoid federal enforcement and potential penalties.”

Canoll warned, “If they try and weaken the registration requirements, they’re going to get a fight from us. I have a lot of respect for the modelers. The problem is there are a lot of people out there [using small (UAV)s] who aren’t modelers, who are out there just operating a toy.”

The (FAA) said there are now more registered drone operators in the USA than there are registered manned aircraft.

(FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta told a legal forum that the (FAA) passed the milestone when it topped 325,000 registered drone owners. There are 320,000 registered manned aircraft.

Huerta said the number of small unmanned aircraft is even larger, because drone operators often own more than one drone.

(FAA) officials launched a drone registration program just before Christmas, saying it would help them track down operators who violate regulations and also help to create a culture of accountability.

Huerta said the speed with which registration has taken off is proof that government and industry can work together.

News Item A-6: The USA (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reinforced warnings about the dangers of transporting lithium-ion and lithium-metal batteries as bulk cargo in passenger and freighter aircraft.

News Item A-7: "USA, Singapore Sign Milestone Maintenance Agreement"
by (ATW, Linda Blachly, February 16, 2016.

The USA (FAA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) inked a milestone Maintenance Implementation Procedures (MIP) maintenance agreement, which is designed to “strengthen aviation safety while reducing the cost of inspections on repair work,” (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta said.

The agreement, which was signed on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow, is the first of its kind in Asia and will set the standard for future agreements, the (FAA) said.

“The agreement builds on the 2004 USA - Singapore Bilateral Safety Agreement, which has benefited both countries by saving time and reducing costs in aircraft design and manufacturing. The (MIP) will also reduce costs by allowing the reciprocal acceptance of Singapore and the USA’s surveillance of maintenance work,” the (FAA) said.

As part of the strong USA - Singapore bilateral relationship, the (FAA) and the (CAAS) also partner under Singapore’s Air Traffic Management Center of Excellence to expand understanding and build Air Traffic Management capacity in the region.

News Item A-8: "(IATA) Says Bangkok Airport a Safety Risk, Needs Urgent Expansion: Report" by Khettiya Jittapong & Manunphattr Dhanananphorn, Reuters, February 19, 2016.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned that Bangkok's main Suvarnabhumi Airport is a safety risk, with "serious" overcrowding soon to become a critical issue, and urgent expansion needed, the "Nation" daily reported on February 19.

Thailand is under pressure to improve its aviation standards after the USA Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded the country's safety ratings in December last year. "There are also safety concerns on the airport's tarmac, taxiways and apron area because of soft spots," (IATA) Director General & (CEO), Tony Tyler said.

"Aircraft get stuck in the soft surface due to substandard materials," he told the newspaper in an interview in Bangkok, after returning from the Singapore Airshow.

Thailand's aviation industry is under scrutiny after the United Nation's International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) downgraded the country in June 2015, giving it a red flag for missing a deadline to tackle safety concerns.

This week, the Thai Civil Aviation Authority said a review by (ICAO) was likely to be delayed until early 2017, because it needed more time to improve the qualification of Thai auditors.

Tyler said the airport, which handles 52 million passengers each year, had a significant regional and global role, but needed urgent expansion of its terminal capacity, the "Nation" said. "It was designed to handle 45 million passengers annually, but it exceeds that today and traffic is still growing at an annual +10% rate," he said. "Overcrowding is a serious issue that will become critical quickly," Tyler said.

(IATA) represents almost 260 airlines, accounting for 83% of global air traffic.

Thai airport operator Airports of Thailand said it was aware of the problems flagged by (IATA) and has readied several measures to improve runways using concrete and expand capacity, which are awaiting government approval. "We have prepared short- to medium- and long-term plans to solve the problems," Sirote Duangratana, General Manager of Suvarnabhumi Airport, told "Reuters."

March 2016: News Item A-1: "American (AAL), Southwest (SWA) pilots (FC) Back Shuster’s (ATC) Plan" by (ATW) Aaron Karp, March 4, 2016.

Unions representing pilots (FC) from American Airlines (AAL and Southwest Airlines (SWA) have added their support to the proposal by Representative Bill Shuster (Republican-Pennsylvania) to separate USA air traffic control (ATC) from the (FAA).

Shuster’s proposed (FAA) re-authorization bill, which has cleared the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (T&I), chaired by Shuster, would move the management and operation of USA (ATC) to a “federally chartered, fully independent, not-for-profit corporation” led by a board of directors that would include a pilot (FC) labor representative. Both the Southwest Airlines (SWA) Pilots Association (SWAPA), representing (SWA)’s 8,000 flight deck crew, and the Allied Pilots Association (APA), representing (AAL)’s 15,000 pilots (FC), were pleased Shuster’s original bill was amended during a (T&I) markup so that the governing board’s pilot (FC) labor representative would be appointed by a coalition of flight deck crew labor groups rather than just the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).

(ALPA) remains opposed to the bill. (SWAPA) and (APA) both said they would like to see additions to the legislation related to, for example, pilot (FC) medical certification reform. However, the two unions said such concerns aren’t enough to stop them from backing the overall bill, particularly the plan to create a non-profit, independent (ATC) corporation led by a 13-member board of directors (the T&I markup added aerospace manufacturing and business aviation directors to the board, bringing its membership from 11 to 13).

“For decades, we have watched valuable taxpayer-supported resources used in well-intended efforts to modernize the (FAA) and the air traffic control system, only to have those efforts thwarted or become obsolete at implementation due to the vagaries and inefficiencies of the federal funding mechanism,” (APA) President, Keith Wilson said in explaining his support for “separating the regulated from the regulators.”

(SWAPA) President, Jon Weaks said, “For too long, the delays in upgrading our air traffic control technology have led to costly delays for passengers on the ground. [The proposed bill] will take bold and significant steps to separate the (FAA)’s air traffic controllers from the federal bureaucracy that has deprived them of the tools necessary to best do their job.”

Shuster’s plan to create an (ATC) corporation separate from the (FAA) has already gained the backing of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), the union representing 19,000 USA air traffic controllers.

News Item A-2: "Shuster Pushes Second Temporary Extension of (FAA)’s Authorization" by (ATW) Aaron Karp, March 10, 2016.

Representatives Bill Shuster (Republican-Pennsylvania) and Kevin Brady (Republican-Texas), the Chairmen of two key USA House of Representatives committees, have introduced legislation extending (FAA)’s authorization through July 15.

With time running out before the (FAA)’s authorization, extended for six months last September, expires on March 31, lawmakers are working to avoid a partial shutdown of the (FAA). Shuster, Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (T&I), has proposed a long-term (FAA) re-authorization bill that would run through September 30, 2022. While (T&I) has passed the bill following a committee markup, the proposed legislation has generated controversy over its plan to move the management and operation of USA air traffic control (ATC) from the (FAA) to an independent, nonprofit corporation. It’s unclear when or if the full House will take up the bill for a vote.

On the Senate side, Senators John Thune (Republican-South Dakota) and Bill Nelson (Democrat-Florida) have introduced an (FAA) re-authorization bill that they believe can gain wide bipartisan support. That proposed legislation, which would authorize the (FAA) through September 30, 2017, is targeted by the senators for consideration by the full Senate in April. Thune and Nelson have acknowledged the need for an extension beyond the current March 31 deadline, and a July timeline is consistent with Senate thinking on when both chambers of Congress could pass unified (FAA) re-authorization legislation to send to President Barack Obama’s desk for signature into law.

“While both the House and Senate continue efforts to move each bill forward, we need to pass an extension to ensure that the (FAA) and the federal aviation programs remain fully funded and functional,” Shuster said.

Brady is Chairman of the powerful Ways & Means Committee; his backing for the extension should bring considerable support from other House members for passing it.

The last (FAA) re-authorization, passed in February 2012, came after more than >4 years of wrangling in Congress that included 23 temporary extensions and a two-week partial shutdown of the (FAA) in the 2011 summer. Shuster, Thune (Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee) and other lawmakers had vowed to avoid another round of repeated extensions this time around, but it appears as if at least a second temporary extension of the (FAA)’s authority will now be needed.

News Item A-3: "Gogo New Open Architecture Modem Ready for (HTS), (LEO) Satellite Connectivity" by Juliet Van Wagenen, Avionics Today, March 1, 2016.

Gogo will upgrade its satellite modem for use with its next generation 2Ku and Ku satellite technologies. The modem will begin flight testing on Gogo's Boeing 737 test lab airplane, known as the "Jimmy Ray," in the coming months, with the company anticipating commercial delivery to begin in 2017.

According to Gogo, the new modem will be capable of delivering 400 Mbps to an airplane to support the anticipated capacity of next generation High-Throughput Satellites (HTS). The modem will also have the capability to simultaneously supporting (IP) streaming and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV).

"Just like your home or office Wi-Fi set-up, you can make improvements to the amount of bandwidth delivered, but if the modem can't support that bandwidth, you can create a choke point in the network," said Anand Chari, Gogo's Chief Technology Officer, noting that the new modem also seeks to enable an open architecture to take advantage of new satellite technologies as they come online, such as High Throughput Satellite (HTS) and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations.

Gogo partnered with Gilat Satellite Networks for the development of the new modem. The (IFC) company has begun the licensing approval process for the new modem through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the (FAA).

News Item A-4: "(FAA) in (UAV)-spotting Technology Pursuit" by (ATW) Henry Canaday, March 4, 2016.

The (FAA) will report to USA Congress this year on technologies that could spot and identify drones near airports.

The (FAA) is working with Virginia-based Information Technology (IT) company (CACI) on the problem, but will consider other technologies as well, Chris Swidler, Manager of (R&D) at the (FAA)’s (UAS) Integration Office, told attendees at an unmanned aerial vehicle seminar organized by the Japan International Transport Institute (JITI) in Washington DC on March 3.

There are increasing moves to keep small (UAV)s out of airspace close to commercial airports after numerous near-miss reports by airlines. The (FAA) introduced a new regulation late last year governing the private ownership and operation of drones in an effort to both keep them away from airliners and to track owners where there is an incident.

One possible protection against drones (geo-fencing) drew a mixed response from the (JITI) panel. Tomoyuku Izu, President of drone manufacturer, the enRoute Company, said geo-fencing is fine if (GPS) works, which it may not between buildings or mountains. So his company’s drones are programmed to land in a safe area if they lose their (GPS) function.

Senior Manager, Akiro Sata at Yamaha, which has made mini-helicopter drones for decades, says his drones are geo-fenced to do surveillance only in particular agricultural areas. But Baptiste Tripard, Managing Director at France’s SenseFly, opposed geo-fencing, saying mission operators should always be responsible for drone movements. Swidler said geo-fencing “has potential as a risk-mitigation measure,” but cautioned it would be necessary to set geo-fencing standards, determine how it is used and how rules will be enforced.

The panel members generally agreed that allocation of spectrum for drone communications is a challenge, but expect it to be met. Tripard objected to encrypting drone communications for security, saying there were other technical solutions to prevent capture of control by unauthorized persons.

Swidler and the (FAA) are working with (ICAO) and other nations on the international aspects of drone regulation, but requirements and approaches vary considerably. For example, Japan only moved from voluntary industry standards to government rules in December 2015. France focuses primarily on safety, and lets industrial inspection drones fly at night because there is less air traffic then. And the (FAA)’s national rules are sometimes overridden by local rules governing privacy issues.

News Item A-5: "(BEA) Report: Air France A320 and (UAV) in Near Miss"
by (ATW) Kurt Hofmann, March 4, 2016.

French air accident investigation agency (BEA) has reported what it describes as a serious near-miss incident involving an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and an Air France (AFA) Airbus A320 during its approach to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)

The incident happened February 19 and the flight’s captain (FC) reported seeing the drone, estimating it came within about 5 m of the aircraft’s left wing, according to the (BEA) report.

The aircraft, registration (F-GKXT) operating flight AF1149 from Barcelona to Paris (CDG), was on approach to runway 26L at an altitude of 5,500 feet when the first officer (FC) saw the drone ahead.

The first officer (FC) disengaged the autopilot and the captain informed air traffic control (ATC). The crew (FC) then re-engaged the autopilot and completed the landing at Paris (CDG) safely.

There have been a growing number of near-miss reports involving small (UAV)s near major airports. The problem seems especially acute in Europe and in the USA, where the (FAA) last year introduced new rules governing private, small (UAV) ownership, registration and operation. Typically, authorities are unable to track the drone or its operator; the (FAA) rules are aimed at making them traceable.

News Item A-6: A USA Senator wants to add regulation to the (FAA) Re-authorization Bill that would set minimum seat-space requirements for airlines, saying that “rapidly shrinking seat width and leg room” is a health and safety hazard.

News Item A-6: "(FAA) Ups 20-year USA Airline Traffic Forecast Following Strong 2015" by (ATW) Aaron Karp, March 28, 2016.

Demand for air travel in the USA in 2015 grew at the fastest rate since 2007, according to the (FAA), which has slightly increased its 20-year annual growth rate forecast for USA airline traffic.

The (FAA) said USA airlines’ system traffic (RPM)s increased +3.8% year-over-year in 2015 as domestic (RPM)s rose by +4.8% and international (RPM)s lifted +2.2%. International air travel from/to the USA in 2015 was negatively affected by the economic slowdown in China and recessions in Brazil and Russia, the (FAA) said.

Bumping up its 20-year forecast slightly from last year’s projection, the (FAA) said in a new forecast released March 24 that USA airline (RPM)s will increase at an average annual rate of +2.6% from 2017 - 2036. The (FAA) last year predicted a +2.5% annual growth rate for USA airline traffic for 2016 - 2035.

In the new forecast, the (FAA) said USA airlines’ domestic (RPM)s are projected to increase +4.1% in 2016 and then grow at an average rate of +2.1% annually during the remaining 20-year forecast period. The (FAA) added that international (RPM)s are forecast to increase +2.2% in 2016 and then grow at an average rate of +3.5% per year through 2036.

The (FAA) said international traffic growth being outpaced by domestic traffic growth in 2015 was an exception to the longstanding trend of international traffic growing faster, a trend that is expected to resume by 2017. “The international market continues to be the growth segment for USA carriers when compared to the mature USA domestic market,” the (FAA) said.

Latin America is predicted to be the fastest growing international region for USA airlines over the forecast period, the (FAA) said.

The (FAA) said 785.8 million passengers traveled on USA airlines in 2015 as measured by total enplanements. The number of annual USA airline passengers is expected to rise to 1.24 billion in 2036, according to the (FAA).

The (FAA)’s forecast assumes that per barrel oil prices will average $43 in 2016, exceed $100 by 2023 and be over >$150 by 2036.

News Item A-7: "(FAA) Raises Blanket Commercial (UAV) Altitude Restriction to 400 Feet", by (ATW) Aaron Karp, March 29, 2016.

The (FAA) has lifted the allowed altitude for commercial and governmental unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) weighing less than <55 lbs to 400 feet.

The (FAA) previously had a blanket requirement that commercial/governmental (UAV)s operating in USa airspace stay below 200 feet unless receiving special authorization. Even with the change, operators of commercial/governmental (UAV)s in the USA must still apply to the (FAA) for a certificate of waiver to be allowed to operate, and other blanket restrictions remain in place.

“Operators must fly under daytime visual flight rules, keep the [UAV] within visual line of sight of the pilot (FC) and stay certain distances away from airports or heliports,” the (FAA) said, adding that operations are restricted within five nautical miles of an airport with a control tower and over major cities.

(FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta called the change “another milestone in our effort to change the traditional speed of government,” adding, “Expanding the authorized airspace for these operations means government and industry can carry out unmanned aircraft missions more quickly and with less red tape.”

April 2016: News Item A-1: "UK Launches Courses for Commercial (UAS) Users" by (ATW) Alan Dron, April 8, 2016.

UK’s air navigation service provider, (NATS), has launched a series of courses designed to ensure that commercial users of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operate them safely.

The classes were started following a series of incidents in UK airspace in which airline pilots (FC) have reported near-misses with small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), frequently while on final approach to airports. There are concerns about collisions, or the ingestion of a (UAV) into an engine, particularly when an airliner is flying at low altitudes and relatively low speeds.

The three-day courses, costing £1,200/$1,700, will be open to anyone that intends to use (UAV)s for commercial purposes. The courses, which are being staged monthly, will see attendees learning about topics such as aviation law, meteorology, navigation, principles of flight, and (UAS) best practices.

The course also includes a practical flying assessment to ensure users can operate their craft to standards set down by UK aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Even before attending the course, candidates will have to demonstrate proficiency flying one of the vehicles in a small area.

The course has been designed to instruct operators to a level that will satisfy the safety and operational requirements outlined by the (CAA). To successfully complete the course, attendees will have to pass the theory and practical flying session, and also create and maintain an Operating Manual/Operating Safety Case. The last of these will be an important stage in obtaining (CAA) approval to operate a (UAS) commercially.

(NATS) course leader, Colin Houston said that with (UAV)s “becoming increasingly popular, we want to be able to help people and companies to use them safely in the airspace. Our tailored training course is provided by air traffic control (ATC) professionals with comprehensive operational [UAS] experience.”

“The courses are primarily aimed at commercial users, although there’s nothing to stop a private individual participating,” a (NATS) spokesman said.

It will not be a legal requirement for a (UAV) operator to pass the (NATS) course before applying for (CAA) permission to operate a (UAV), the spokesman said. However, those who do “will get a recommendation from us that goes to the (CAA) saying that we believe that the person is a well-qualified and competent user and that we recommend they get approval.”

The courses are being held at (NATS)’ headquarters near Southampton, in the south of England, and at Prestwick, base of the Shanwick Oceanic Center in western Scotland.

News Item A-2: "Investigation Launched After British Airways A320 Reports Being Hit by (UAV)" by (ATW) Alan Dron, April 17, 2016.

Police in London are investigating a collision on April 17 between a British Airways (BAB) aircraft on final approach to London Heathrow (LHR) Airport and an unidentified object, believed to be an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The Airbus A320 landed safely.

Flight BA727 was inbound from Geneva and approaching the airport from the east, over central London, when the crew reported an impact around 1250 local time, April 17. The aircraft, with 132 passengers and five crew ((FC) & (CA)), landed safely and without any injuries.

A London Metropolitan Police statement said that the pilot (FC) reported he believed a drone had struck the front of the aircraft. Investigations are continuing.

A (BAB) spokesman said that engineers (MT) checked the aircraft on landing and cleared it to go back into service for its next scheduled flight. He added that the aircraft had been “five to 10 minutes out” from (LHR) airport at the time of the impact.

(LHR) Airport said that it was working with (BAB), the UK air navigation service provider (NATS) and the police.

A spokesman for the UK aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (UKCAA), said: “Anyone operating a drone must do so responsibly and observe all relevant rules and regulations. It is totally unacceptable to fly drones close to airports and anyone flouting the rules can face severe penalties, including imprisonment.

“Drone users have to understand that when taking to the skies, they are potentially flying close to one of the busiest areas of airspace in the world.”

It anticipated receiving a report from (BAB) on the incident within 96 hours.

The number of reports of near-miss incidents between small (UAV)s and airliners near major airports has become a serious concern for the air transport industry and regulatory authorities. French air accident investigation agency (BEA) is investigating what it described as a “serious near-miss incident” involving an unmanned aerial vehicle and an Air France (AFA) Airbus A320 during its approach to Paris Charles de Gaulle in February.

The problem seems especially acute in Europe and in the USA, where the (FAA) last year introduced new rules governing private, small (UAV) ownership and operation. Typically, authorities are unable to track the privately-owned drone or its operator; the (FAA) rules are aimed at making them traceable and at keeping (UAV)s away from airports.

News Item A-3: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released an Airworthiness Directive (AD) on April 22nd ordering certain airlines to urgently modify engines on Boeing 787 Dreamliners, due to an icing problem that can cause a specific model of (GE) engine to shut down in flight. The problem affects 176 787 Dreamliners at 29 airlines (about 44% of the worldwide 787 fleet).

See attached - - "FAA-2016-04 - FAA Engine AD-A/B/C.jpg."

The (AD) follows a January 29, 2016 incident in which one of the two engines on a Japan Airlines (JAL) 787 shut down in mid-air and could not be restarted. The 787 flying from Vancouver BC, Canada with 166 people on board, was about 90 miles from Tokyo's Narita Airport, when the right-hand engine failed. The pilots (FC) landed the the 787 safely on one engine about half an hour later.

Affected airlines have until the first week of October 2016 to complete the rework on all their affected 787s. In the meantime, pilots (FC) are required to follow a new ice-removal procedure in flight.

May 2016: "Op-Ed: Why You Should Fly with Local Hobbyists on DC Drone Day" by Jay Marsh, VP Academy of Model Aeronautics Washington, D.C., District IV, May 6, 2016.

Drones are everywhere in the news, on television and even around Washington, DC. The popularity of this technology will only grow as more people take up flying unmanned aircraft, sometimes referred to as “drones,” for fun. To keep our skies safe, everyone should take the time to learn how to fly according to the appropriate guidelines and any local restrictions.

I started flying control line airplanes when I was seven years old. I sold greeting cards to buy my first Cox .049 airplane and started flying with a local hobby shop. Back then, model aircraft were not as mainstream as they are today, and the best way to learn the ropes was through local flying clubs. That’s why I joined the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) in 1962 and I’ve been flying ever since.

Since its founding in 1936, the (AMA) has become the largest organization of recreational unmanned aircraft enthusiasts in the world. For decades, we have been working to educate more people on how to fly safely through a community-based set of guidelines and education programs, like the (AMA) Flight School.

But given the growing interest in flying drones and model aircraft over the last few years, the (AMA) has expanded our education efforts to meet the new demand, even beyond our own members. That’s where D.C. Drone Day comes in. On Saturday, May 7, the (AMA) will host 19 events that are free of charge and open to the public in the Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia region. These events are designed to give more people the education they need to fly safely and legally.

The truth is all of these guidelines on how, where, and when to fly your aircraft are complex. If someone is thinking about flying for the first time, there are a few simple guidelines they should follow:

* Unless operating within an established community-based safety program, fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below any surrounding obstacles when possible.

* Remain well clear of, and do not interfere with, manned aircraft operations. You must see and avoid other aircraft and obstacles at all times.

* Do not intentionally fly over unprotected persons or moving vehicles, and remain at least 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property.

* Contact the airport or control tower before flying within five miles of an airport.

* Consider seeking help from a local community-based organization, like the (AMA), to learn to fly.

I want everyone to experience the joy of flying like I have. But to keep our airspace safe, when you are taking to the skies, be sure to always be aware of your surroundings, including flight restrictions around emergency situations. Everyone who flies needs to take the time to educate themselves on how to do it safely before enjoying this hobby.

June 2016: "The (FAA) Issues Regulations for Small Commercial (UAV)s"
by (ATW) Aaron Karp, June 21, 2016

"The new rule, which takes effect in late August, offers safety regulations for unmanned aircraft drones weighing less than <55 lbs that are conducting non-hobbyist operations," the (FAA) said.

The (FAA) has issued operating regulations for small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) used for routine commercial purposes, paving the way for widespread commercial drone operations in the USA starting later this year. “The new rule, which takes effect in late August, offers safety regulations for unmanned aircraft drones weighing less than <55 lbs that are conducting non-hobbyist operations,” the (FAA) said. “The rule’s provisions are designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground.”

The (FAA) rule requires that small commercial (UAV)s are operated only within the visual line-of-sight of the “remote pilot in command” and, if applicable, the “person manipulating the flight controls” if he or she is different from the commanding pilot. “At all times” those persons must be “capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses,” the (FAA) stated.

The small commercial (UAV)s cannot “operate over any persons not directly participating in the operation” nor inside covered structures, according to the (FAA). Operations must occur during daylight or, if the (UAV) has “appropriate anti-collision lighting,” during “twilight,” defined as 30 minutes before sunrise or 30 minutes after sunset. The (UAV)’s maximum speed cannot exceed 87 knots. Maximum altitude is 400 ft above ground level or within 400 ft of a structure.

The (UAV) must be operated by a “remote pilot in command” holding a pilot airman certificate with a small (UAV) rating or by someone under the direct supervision of such a person, the (FAA) said. To gain the appropriate certificate, one must either pass an aeronautical knowledge test at an (FAA)-approved training center or be an (FAA)-approved flight instructor, who has completed a flight review within the last two years or completed a small (UAV) online training course provided by the (FAA).

The “remote pilot in command” certificate also requires vetting by the USA Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The certificate holder must be at least 16 years old.

(FAA) airworthiness certification is not required for small commercial (UAV)s, but the remote pilot in command must conduct a pre-flight check of the (UAV) “to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation,” the (FAA) said.

As part of the regulations, the (FAA) is allowing small commercial (UAV) operators to apply for waivers that would allow individual users to operate beyond the regulations, if the (FAA) determines this can be done safely.

* (ALPA) reaction

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which has long warned of the dangers (UAV)s pose to airliners, said that the small commercial (UAV) rule issued by the (FAA) includes “beneficial safety provisions,” but (ALPA) pushed the (FAA) to “take a stronger stance in ensuring that those who commercially pilot [small (UAV)s] hold the same certificate as commercial-rated pilots. This will assure a standard level of aeronautical knowledge and training across all pilots operating [UAVs] commercially.”

(ALPA) also noted the (FAA) regulations on small commercial (UAV)s do not cover recreational (UAV)s. Users of small recreational (UAV)s are required to register with the (FAA), but many of the regulations issued by the (FAA) for small commercial (UAV)s (particularly regarding the “remote pilot (FC) in command” requirements) do not apply to recreational users.

“Recreational users make up the bulk of [UAV] flyers, yet they are virtually unregulated due to legislative conditions placed on the (FAA),” (ALPA) said. “It is essential that all rules developed to promote the safe operation of unmanned aircraft systems must be consistent with and compatible with those for all other airspace users.”

* Government comments

House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman, Bill Shuster (Republican-Pennsylvania) and aviation subcommittee Chairman, Frank LoBiondo (Republican-New Jersey) said in a joint statement that “the (FAA)’s long-overdue final rule focuses on safely integrating unmanned drones into the national airspace, while providing flexibility to permit more advanced types of operations as technology improves.”

USA Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx said the regulations issued by the (FAA) recognize that “we are part of a new era in aviation,” adding that unmanned aircraft have the potential to “make it safer and easier to do certain jobs, gather information and deploy disaster relief.”

(FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta added, “With this new rule, we are taking a careful and deliberate approach that balances the need to deploy this new technology with the (FAA)’s mission to protect public safety. But this is just our first step. We’re already working on additional rules that will expand the range of operations.”

July 2016: News Item A-1: Amazon gets green light for UK drone trials. Online retail and technology firm Amazon has secured permission from the UK (CAA) to trial unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations, or drones, for parcel delivery.

News Item A-2: "(FAA) Sets Standards to Reduce Runway Overruns" by (ATW) Mark Nensel, July 22, 2016.

The (FAA) announced that new takeoff and landing performance assessment (TALPA) standards in the USA will take effect from October 1. The new standards should be followed by all federally obligated USA airports, airline flight crews (FC), dispatchers, general aviation pilots and air traffic controllers, the (FAA) said. They are aimed at reducing runway overrun accidents and runway contamination incidents.

The (FAA) and the aviation community created a committee to form (TALPA) standards following the December 8, 2005, overrun accident at Chicago Midway International Airport in which a Southwest Airlines (SWA) Boeing 737-700 slid off the runway, while landing during a snowstorm, crashed through the airport’s fencing, and plowed into local street traffic. A child in a vehicle died in the incident, and 12 people, in vehicles and on the airplane, were hospitalized.

Airports will start reporting runway conditions utilizing a “runway condition assessment matrix” to categorize runway conditions and pilots will use it to interpret the reported runway conditions, the (FAA) said. “This information will enable airplane operators, pilots (FC), and flight planners to determine the distance required to stop on a wet or contaminated paved runway in a more accurate way.”

(TALPA) standards “[improve] the way the aviation community assesses runway conditions, based on contaminant type and depth, which provides an aircraft operator with the effective information to anticipate airplane braking performance,” the (FAA) said.

Runway assessments will be reported in newly formatted Field Condition Notices to Airmen. “This will allow pilots (FC) and flight planners to use the information, along with manufacturer’s aircraft-specific date, to determine the runway length needed to safely stop an aircraft after landing,” the (FAA) said. “Airports and air traffic controllers [will] communicate actual runway conditions to the pilots (FC) in terms that directly relate to the way a particular aircraft is expected to perform,” the (FAA) said.

Mark Nensel,

August 2016: News Item A-1: "(FAA) Launches Drone Safety Data Initiative" by (ATW) Graham Warwick, August 3, 2016.

The (FAA) is chartering an Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST) to address issues raised by growing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations.

The move, announced August 2, builds on the USA government-industry Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) initiative to reduce airline accident rates.

The announcement was made at the first drones workshop in the White House, organized by the Office of Science & Technology (OSTP). (FAA) Administrator, Michael Huerta said the team will bring together a wide set of stakeholders from the drone and aviation industries.

Modeled on the (CAST), the (UAST) will analyze safety data to identify emerging threats that drones might pose to aircraft, people and property and develop consensus-based, non-regulatory interventions to mitigate potential causes of accidents involving (UAV)s.

The (FAA) previously announced it was chartering another stakeholder group, the Drone Advisory Committee, to help the (FAA) prioritize regulatory actions that will follow release of the Part 107 small (UAV) rule, which will take effect on August 29.

Huerta said the0 next rulemaking action will be the proposed rule for operations of small (UAV)s, which is scheduled to be published for public comment by the end of the year. This will provide the framework for use of drones near crowds, for news gathering.

Under its Pathfinder program, the (FAA) is working with (CNN) News to establish rules for operating (UAV)s in urban areas; with PrecisionHawk for extended-visual-line-of-sight (EVLOS) operations 2 - 3 nm from the (UAV) operator; and with (BNSF) Railway for longer-range beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations.

Several disparate government and industry actions to expand the use of (UAS) were announced to coincide with the (OSTP) workshop. Among them were plans for operational testing of the Project Wing delivery service under development by X, the advanced research arm of Google partner Alphabet.

Flights at one of the six (FAA)-designated (UAV) test sites will enable Project Wing “to gain full operational experience of its delivery service in a safe testing environment,” the (OSTP) said. Testing will include operations with external loads and build toward (BVLOS) operations.

“Data gathered will be shared with government partners to help regulators answer critical safety and human factors questions for (UAS) cargo delivery operations,” the (OSTP) said. Project Wing will also begin to develop and deploy an open-interface airspace management system for safe low-altitude operations.

On the government side, (NASA) (NAS) and the (FAA) are launching a data-exchange working group to recommend by fiscal 2017 a format for information to be shared across the parties involved in (UAV) traffic management (UTM), including operators, service providers and the (FAA).

(NASA) (NAS) is developing the technologies to enable low-altitude (UTM) in a series of increasingly capable spirals, with the second of four planned technical capability levels to be demonstrated in October at the Nevada (UAS) test site. (NASA) plans to turn over its (UTM) research to the (FAA) in 2019 for further testing.

* "FAA: Small-(UAS) Rule Going into Effect" by (ATW) Mark Nensel, August 26, 2016.

The (FAA) will release its small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) rule (known as Part 107) on August 29. The (FAA) describes it as “a clear regulatory framework for civil and commercial operations of small (UAV) under 55 lb.”

During an August 24 briefing in Washington, (FAA) (UAS) Integration Office Director Earl Lawrence told congressional staffers, industry leaders and reporters that 3,351 (UAV) operators had already pre-registered to take the written-test portion of the new (UAV) piloting procedures. “We’ve been doing a tremendous amount of work preparing for this day,” Lawrence said. “[We’ve] made sure that the testing centers are prepared, that the tests are loaded up the right way, [and] all systems are going to work and run smoothly on Day One.”

Non-hobbyist operators of small (UAV)s will be required to visit the (FAA)’s (UAS) website and begin the process to obtain a remote pilot certificate. Under the new rule, the person actually flying a (UAV) must have a remote pilot certificate with a small (UAV) rating, or be directly supervised by someone with the certificate.

To qualify for the certificate, applicants must either have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate or pass an aeronautical knowledge test at an (FAA)-approved knowledge testing center.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will conduct background checks on all remote pilot applications prior to issuance of certifications.

Lawrence described Part 107 as a flexible framework for small (UAV) operations within visual line of sight (VLOS). It will be a rule for routine operations in daylight and civil twilight hours, at or below 400 ft, in Class G airspace, at 100 mph or less.

“I highlight routine because there are exceptions, [and] there are opportunities to get waivers,” Lawrence said. “We're trying to get as many operations that we know we can safely allow, that we can get done now; that's really what we're looking for.”

“It is not the rule for routine operations beyond (VLOS) or in controlled airspace, or for package delivery, or for over people,” Lawrence said. “We're looking to get there. We can facilitate some of those, but not routine operations.”

The rule allows for some expanded operations based on technology mitigations “if an operator can make the safety case for a waiver of some provisions,” the (FAA) said on August 26. Operators can apply for waivers to operate at night, beyond (VLOS), above 400 ft and other specific types of operation. A portal on the (UAS) website will enable requests for waivers of applicable Part 107 regulations.

Examples of commercial use for which the rule applies, include aerial surveying or photography services for construction; roof inspection; real estate photography; firefighting; search and rescue; and film and video production.

“[This is] just the beginning,” Lawrence said. “In December, we expect to release another proposed rule making on operations over people and then we're hoping [that] about this time next year we'll be issuing a [ruling] on expanded operations.”

The (UAS) help line number is: (844) FLY-MYUA.

News Item A-2: "(NATCA) President: (FAA) Falling Behind on (ATC) Technology" by (ATW) Aaron Karp, August 24, 2016.

The (FAA) is stuck in “a vicious cycle” of deploying new air traffic control (ATC) technology so slowly that it becomes outdated by the time the technology is actually in use, National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) President Paul Rinaldi said August 24.
“The status quo, as we sit [here] today, is completely unacceptable,” Rinaldi, head of the union representing 14,000 USA Air Traffic Controllers, told the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) Air Safety Forum in Washington DC.

An “archaic, bureaucratic-laden procurement process” and federal budget constraints mean the (FAA) is “stuck in the early 2000s” in terms of (ATC) technology, he said.

Despite the USA government spending hundreds of millions of dollars deploying the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) computer system at the (FAA)’s 20 enroute (ATC) centers across the USa, “we still have to do 2.4 million manual handoffs a year with Canada,” Rinaldi said. He explained that the flight handoffs are “in essence, a phone call (we get on the line [and] the controller in Canada gets on the line).” NAV Canada has the technology to do automated, digital flight handoffs; “They’re just waiting on us,” Rinaldi said.

Rinaldi added that it is “kind of mind boggling” that, unlike NAV Canada and other Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) around the world, the (FAA) is not investing in space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology. “We could actually have surveillance over the oceans and give the pilots (FC) the ability to vector around some pretty severe weather,” he said. “I don’t get it - - [The (FAA)’s] budget is so tight they can’t find money to spend on this. If [air traffic] growth is really going to happen, especially in the [transpacific] market, we need the best technology.”

(NATCA) earlier this year backed a proposed (FAA) re-authorization bill sponsored by USA House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman, Bill Shuster (Republican-Pennsylvania) that would have separated (ATC) operations from the (FAA). The bill would have created an independent USA air-traffic management entity modeled after NAV Canada. But the legislation stalled in the face of complaints that it amounted to the privatization of USA (ATC), and Congress in July instead passed a temporary extension of the (FAA)’s authorization through September 30, 2017.

“The word ‘privatization’ is a very ugly word, at least for some people,” Rinaldi said, but he emphasized that Shuster’s plan did not call for a “for-profit” (ATC) system.

Under the current setup, in which Congress must allocate funds to the (ATC) system on an annual basis, high-profile political issues “have gotten in the way of aviation safety,” Rinaldi said, adding, “We have to find a way that [the (ATC) is] separated from the partisanship, the fighting that keeps going on,” in Congress.

Under the current arrangement, decisions are made by the (FAA) “to meet the budget” rather than the (FAA) determining what is best for the (ATC) system, he said. “We need to assure a dedicated funding stream for our aviation system. When you look at what most of the other civilized countries have done, they have pulled out the [air traffic organization from government control] and they’re thriving. If we stay in status quo, we’re going to struggle in the future,” he said.

October 2016: News Item A-1: "FAA: Shift Away from Enforcement Mindset Enhances Safety" by (ATW) Aaron Karp , October 5, 2016.

(FAA) officials said the “compliance philosophy” adopted by the (FAA) a year ago, which shifted the (FAA)’s emphasis away from punitive enforcement actions, has enabled it to aggregate and analyze key safety data voluntarily provided by airlines less concerned about being penalized. “There’s widespread sharing of safety data and that’s a good thing because that data can be analyzed,” (FAA) Office of the Director of Flight Standards, Senior Technical Advisor Chris MacWhorter told the USA Air Cargo Industry Affairs Summit in Washington DC. “Enforcement is a tool that we have to use, but it’s only one tool that we use. We want to make sure we have incentives in place [for airlines] to report safety information so we can aggregate it and share it. We’re going to reserve [enforcement action] for those things that are reckless and/or are criminal. Otherwise, we’re going to look at the system and see what caused [a specific safety] issue.”

(FAA) Compliance & Enforcement Division Manager Angel Collaku said the agency historically had a “very simple way of looking at” airlines’ compliance with regulations. “There’s a regulation, there’s a violation, come down with the hammer,” he said, describing the (FAA)’s old approach. But the (FAA) is now looking at how “you nuance the issue of safety,” he added, explaining, “We’re seeking to work with the operators, recognizing that there are issues that shouldn’t necessarily be dealt with by an enforcement action.”

“We recognize that people make honest mistakes and we recognize that systems are never perfect,” MacWhorter said. “Enforcement is still there as a deterrent, but it is reserved for things that we just can’t tolerate.”

In explaining the new approach when it was introduced by the (FAA) last year, (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta said the (FAA) concluded that safety is best served when there is “an open and transparent exchange of information and data between the (FAA) and industry,” adding, “We don’t want operators who might inadvertently make a mistake to hide it because they have a fear of being punished. If there is a failing, whether human or mechanical, we need to know about it, to learn from it and make the changes necessary to prevent it from happening again. That open and transparent exchange of information requires mutual cooperation and trust, which can be challenging to achieve in the traditional, enforcement-focused regulatory model.”

Huerta noted that the changed enforcement/compliance approach is connected to the (FAA) requiring all USA airlines to establish a safety management system, which uses data analysis to identify safety risks, by 2018.

FedEx Corporation (FED) Lead Counsel Regulatory Affairs Mark Hansen, also a speaker at the US Air Cargo Industry Affairs Summit, said the (FAA)’s new approach is changing the relationship between the (FAA) and the airlines it regulates. “It involves a lot more conversation between the (FAA) and the regulated entity,” he explained. “The inspectors are still out there, but they’re learning a lot more about our business and how it operates, and there is a constant dialogue going on. Inspectors who know the business of the people they’re inspecting make sounder decisions. There is a lot more communication and that is really a good thing.”

If a “mechanic (MT) puts in the wrong fastener [on an airplane], what we’re doing now is peeling back the onion and figuring out what led to the mistake,” Hansen said. “Was the manual clear enough? You’re always asking, how did this happen and what can we do?”

The “hitch” in the new approach is that carriers such as FedEx (FED) have to get used to the (FAA) raising a safety issue, gleaned from data, even though the issue may not be tied to an existing regulation, Hansen said. (FAA) inspectors are now “interested in things that aren’t necessarily regulatory, but things that may raise a safety issue,” he explained. “It’s in these gray areas that aren’t really regulated where we’ll have to do a bit of a kabuki dance for a while. That relationship [between the (FAA) and airlines] is going to have to be worked out because it’s different than what we had.”

In fact, MacWhorter said, the vast majority of voluntary reports from airlines since the new approach took effect last October “are pointing to system flaws” not related to adherence to a regulation. “The huge success we’ve had with these reporting programs is getting information that is not of a regulatory nature but of a safety nature,” he explained. “From an anecdotal perspective, we’ve gotten positive feedback from the industry [regarding the changed approach]. I understand that enforcement has always been a deterrent. However, everyone wants a safe system, whether it’s on our side or on the industry side. What’s the best way to achieve that? Do we achieve it in an adversarial manner or do we achieve it collaborating? We can find problems before they lead to an incident [through] a professional, collaborative atmosphere.”

News Item A-2: The (FAA) and Transport Canada have banned all Samsung Galaxy Note7 phones from aircraft.

News Item A-3: "(FAA) Seeks to Overcome Perception NextGen is not Delivering" by (ATW) Aaron Karp, October 17, 2016.

The (FAA) is fighting a perception problem over how much progress is being made in implementing the NextGen air traffic control (ATC) modernization program, a top (FAA) official said.

“There’s just not a recognition of some of the accelerated things that have been happening,” (FAA) Assistant Administrator NextGen, Jim Eck told reporters on the sidelines of the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) Conference & Exposition in National Harbor, Maryland.

The (FAA) is about halfway through an 18-year (ATC) modernization initiative encompassing a variety of technologies and procedural changes, all coming under the umbrella of NextGen. A number of members of Congress and (USA) airline executives have complained that NextGen has moved too slowly.

Part of the problem, Eck said, is that much of the (FAA)’s focus has been on building foundational technologies to make NextGen capabilities possible, and the full benefits will only be realized once all of the elements come together. The (FAA) expects NextGen’s benefits “to rise exponentially when we get all of these things in place,” Eck said, noting that the (FAA) estimates $160.6 billion in total NextGen benefits for USA National Airspace System (NAS) users by 2030.

“There was a lot of work that had to go into infrastructure upgrades” to lay the groundwork for NextGen, he explained.

Eck said the final foundational piece of NextGen is the Terminal Flight Data Manager (TFDM) system for which Lockheed Martin was awarded a $344 million contract in July. “The (TFDM) will work by integrating digital flight plans with surface surveillance data to create accurate, real-time predictive tools for the terminal environment,” according to Lockheed. “The (TFDM) will share data among controllers, aircraft operators and airports so they can better stage arrivals and departures, and manage traffic flow within terminal airspace for greater efficiency.”

Moving from paper to electronic flight strips “is one of the first big things” the (TFDM) will make possible, Eck said, adding that USA air traffic controllers at major airport towers will start using electronic flight strips in 2020.

Eck acknowledged criticism that the (FAA) still uses paper flight strips and will continue to do so for several more years. “The fact of the matter is electronic flight strip information by itself isn’t that much different than paper” in terms of efficiency, he said. Electronic flight strips become extremely beneficial when they are integrated with data shared among the entire (ATC) system, which is what the (TFDM) will make possible, Eck said.

The goal of NextGen is to move from a “tactical and reactive” (ATC) system to “strategic air traffic management,” Eck said, explaining, “Right now the future time and position of a given aircraft is not known by all parties [in the (ATC) system]. The transformation we’re looking for is that everyone in the system knows where the aircraft is [in real time] and where it is going.”

But this transformation is about more than implementing new technology, he cautioned. “The technology we need is within our grasp,” Eck said. “We know what we need and we know the people that can build the technology. There’s nothing we need to invent. Technology is not the issue. The challenge is getting everyone [in the (ATC) system] to use it the same way. The technological shift means everyone has to do their job differently in the future.”

NextGen’s benefits will only be totally realized when the airline industry fully equips to take advantage of the technology the (FAA) is putting in place, he added. “Now that we’ve got our infrastructure done and we’ve done a lot of work on [advanced navigation] procedures, we’re focusing on [airlines] getting equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) capability,” Eck said, noting that “all of the major carriers have detailed plans for equipage.” For regional airlines, (ADS-B) equipage is “more challenging,” he conceded.

The primary message Eck wants to communicate to both airlines and Congress about NextGen is that, despite some challenges in the early years of the program’s implementation, it is starting to generate real benefits for system users and those benefits will only increase over time. “By and large, when you’re building on the front end, there’s not a lot to talk about unless it’s not going well,” he said, referring to delays and cost overruns in the 1st years of NextGen.

But “there’s now some really good progress being made here,” Eck emphasized.

December 2016: The Bombardier (BMB) CS300 has gained type validation by the (FAA), meaning both variants of the CSeries have been certified by Transport Canada, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the (FAA).

The (FAA) has also granted the CS100 and the CS300 the Same Type Rating (STR), a designation that allows pilots (FC) to transfer between the 2 variants with minimal training, providing cost savings for airlines that operate both. “These airworthiness validations by international authorities recognize the exhaustive process and excellent work done by Bombardier (BMB), in conjunction with Transport Canada, who awarded the CSeries aircraft their original aircraft type approvals,” (BMB) VP Product Development & Chief Engineer François Caza said.

The (FAA)’s approval of the CS300 came on the same day Latvian carrier airBaltic (BAU) placed the 1st CS300 into revenue service on the Riga - Amsterdam route.

January 2017: News Item A-1: "Chao: ‘National Consensus’ Necessary for (ATC) Reorganization" by (ATW) Aaron Karp, January 11, 2017.

President-elect Donald Trump’s team has not made a decision regarding separating USA Air Traffic Control (ATC) from the (FAA), USA Transportation Secretary nominee Elaine Chao said in a January 11 Senate confirmation hearing.

Chao, who is widely expected to be comfortably confirmed by the Senate, called (ATC) reorganization “an issue of great importance.” A proposal by the USA House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (Republican-Pennsylvania) to create an independent, non-profit entity to manage and operate (ATC), modeled after (NAV) Canada, failed in Congress last year.

With (FAA) reauthorization set to be taken up by Congress again this year, the (ATC) issue is expected to be revived and there has been speculation that Trump will support what some describe as the privatization of (ATC). But Chao said a change of such significance should only be undertaken if there is “national consensus." We need to have a national discussion about this.”

Chao said she is “open to all ideas” regarding (ATC) reform and noted the Trump White House will weigh in on the issue. “This will be one of the issues on which the White House has say,” she said.

Speaking more generally, Chao indicated she wants to “unleash the potential for private investment in our nation’s infrastructure,” which she said is “in need of repair.”

Chao said “innovative financing tools, such as public-private partnerships,” will be pursued to finance USA infrastructure projects by the Trump administration. “In order to take full advantage of the estimated trillions in capital that equity firms, pension funds and endowments can invest, these partnerships must be incentivized with a bold new vision,” Chao explained, adding that she wants to work with Congress “to create a mix of practical solutions (both public and private) that provide the greatest cost-benefit to the public.”

She added, “We need more resources to build, repair and grow our infrastructure, including those related to aviation.”

February 2017: News Item A-1: The (FAA) has granted Boeing (TBC) approval to fly Required Navigation Performance-Authorization Required (RNP-AR) procedures on 787s.

News Item A-2: During a White House meeting with USA airline and airport executives, USA President Donald Trump was surprised to learn that (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta is not a pilot (FC) and said it would be “better to have a pilot” leading the (FAA).

Huerta’s 5-year term as (FAA) Administrator is set to last until January 7, 2018. “Is the gentleman who’s the head of the (FAA) right now not a pilot?” Trump asked, according to a transcript of a portion of the meeting released by the White House. “I’d like to find out because I think it maybe would be good to have a pilot (FC), like a really good pilot (FC) who knows what’s going on. And I would think you need a very sophisticated person in that job and frankly, being a pilot (FC) would be helpful.”

Trump suggested that the (FAA)’s NextGen Air Traffic Control (ATC) modernization program may be “way over budget [and] way beyond schedule” because the (FAA) Administrator is not a pilot (FC).

When informed by a meeting participant that Huerta is not a pilot, Trump responded, “He’s not? He’s not a pilot? I just think a non-pilot would not know the sophistication of this [ATC] system, right? I mean, better to have a pilot because my pilot said it’s a terrible [ATC] system that they’re installing, that the work they’re doing now is a waste of tremendous amounts of money because the system is a bad system. That’s coming from a pilot (FC).”

March 2017: News Item A-1: ‘Stretched’ to Finance Projects, USA Airports Call for Federal Reforms" by (ATW) Aaron Karp, March 1, 2017.

A day after USA President Donald Trump reiterated his desire to invest money in USA airport infrastructure in an address to Congress, USA airport directors told lawmakers that financing infrastructure projects remains difficult and pushed for reforms by the federal government.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) (CEO) Sean Donohue said during a March 1 House of Representatives hearing that infrastructure financing is the biggest challenge USA airports face. “Airports must cobble together enough funding” for necessary improvements through a variety of means, including passenger facility charges (PFCs), (FAA)’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP), municipal bonds and airport retail revenue, he explained. “But even the healthiest airports are stretched” to fully finance projects on a timely basis, Donohue said.

Donohue and 4 other airport directors testifying at a House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee hearing pushed for liberalizing (PFC)s. USA airports are allowed to impose a maximum $4.50 (PFC) fee per flight segment on airline tickets after gaining approval from the (FAA) for a targeted construction project. But the $4.50 cap was set in 2000, and airports have been unsuccessfully lobbying Congress for years to raise it. Proposed legislation introduced March 1 by Representatives Peter DeFazio (Democrat-Oregon) and Thomas Massie (Republican-Kentucky) would eliminate the $4.50 (PFC) cap altogether, though the bill would also reduce (AIP) funding by $400 million annually and make large hub airports imposing a (PFC) greater than $4.50 ineligible for (AIP) grant money.

“The (PFC) must be raised or uncapped,” Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) (CEO) Christina Cassotis said. “It has not kept up with inflation.” Calling the (PFC) “the foundation of airport capital investment” in the USA, Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) welcomed the DeFazio-Massie bill. (ACI-NA) described (PFC)s as “a local user fee paid by air travelers.”

Past attempts to raise the (PFC) cap have been strongly opposed by airlines. Airlines for America (A4A) has characterized any (PFC) cap raise as a de-facto tax increase on airline passengers that will dampen demand for flight tickets.

DeFazio said he had reached out to (A4A) to discuss the proposed bill, but “they just don’t want to talk about it.” (A4A) DeFazio said he believes “no one will ever get on an airplane again if we raise the (PFC) by $2. What they’re really worried about it is [airports] might build more gates and we might have more competition.”

“Saddling passengers with more taxes is not the solution, particularly given the abundance of funding resources already available to airports for capital improvement projects,” an (A4A) spokesperson said, adding, “Airports are collecting record levels of revenues and are well positioned to fund projects without increasing (PFC) taxes on consumers. In fact, airports have not been able to identify a single project that has not moved forward due to the (PFC) not being increased.”

Cassotis said she believes airlines could go along with a reformed (PFC) if they were able to collaborate with airports on what projects (PFC)s are used to finance. “I don’t find that airlines are opposed to raising the (PFC) as much as they are opposed to not having control over what we use it for,” she explained.

Massie was quick to note that the proposed bill is “not increasing the (PFC),” adding, “We’re giving [airports] the freedom to set it at whatever you want. You could lower it.”

Donohue, who said he supported uncapping the (PFC), warned that a broad range of financing options must be available to airports and broader reforms of the way the federal government helps airports finance infrastructure projects are necessary. “The PFC is critical, but it’s not a silver bullet,” he said.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Bill Shuster (Republican-Pennsylvania) said he “couldn’t be more pleased with last night’s speech by the President” regarding investment in infrastructure. Trump called for a $1 trillion investment in USA infrastructure, including airports, but did not provide any specifics other than that the investment would be “financed through both public and private capital.”

“There are billions of dollars in [airport] projects in the pipeline and we’ve got an agency here [FAA] that makes it hard to get these done,” Shuster said. But he also chided Congress for lack of action on aviation infrastructure, saying, “If I point a finger of blame at the (FAA), 3 will be pointed back at me. Congress is part of the problem.”

News Item A-2: USA President Donald Trump is proposing to dramatically restructure both the (FAA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), removing air traffic control (ATC) from the (FAA) and shifting the majority of responsibility for funding aviation security to airline passengers by significantly raising the flight ticket security fee.

President Trump administration’s “budget blueprint,” released March 16 for fiscal year 2018 starting October 1, 2017, provides “lawmakers and the public with a view of the priorities of the President and his administration,” White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney wrote in an introduction to the document.

* ATC restructuring

President Trump's administration, as part of a plan to reduce non-defense discretionary spending by $54 billion, is calling for a -13% decrease, or -$2.4 billion reduction, in the Department of Transportation (DOT) budget compared to fiscal year 2017 ending September 30, 2017. Included in the (DOT) proposal is the administration’s support for moving “the air traffic control function of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to an independent, non-governmental organization, making the system more efficient and innovative, while maintaining safety,” the blueprint stated, adding, “This would benefit the flying public and taxpayers overall.”

The White House’s backing of separating (ATC) from the (FAA) provides a powerful ally to proponents of such a plan, including USA mainline airlines (minus Delta Air Lines (DAL)), air traffic controllers and House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (Republican-Pennsylvania). Shuster’s proposal to create an independent, not-for-profit (ATC) entity ran aground last year, in part, because of opposition in the Senate and neutrality from President Obama's administration, which took no position on Shuster’s plan.

The (FAA)’s authorization, temporarily extended last year, expires September 30, 2017. The budget blueprint indicates President Trump wants to see a multiyear (FAA) reauthorization that includes separating (ATC) from the (FAA).

Shuster praised President Trump for including the (FAA) proposal in the budget blueprint. “By removing the (ATC) function from the (FAA), Americans will see a more efficient system, flight times decrease, on-time departures increase, emissions reduced, and 21st century technology deployed to guide our planes from gate to gate,” he said. “On top of that, the (FAA) will be able to focus on safety and robust oversight of the new not-for-profit service provider. For too long, the federal government has been the impediment in updating our (ATC) operation to a world-class, state of the art system. Like any transformative change in Washington, entrenched interest groups will do and say anything to protect their parochial interests. But the facts are not on their side. The President’s budget rejects adherence to the status quo and I applaud his leadership to disrupt the old way of thinking.”

(IATA) also offered its support for President Trump’s backing of the (ATC) reform proposal. “The air transport system is vital to the American economy, but the USA is falling far behind in the introduction of new and more efficient (ATC) technology to cope with the nearly 500 million more passengers expected to travel by air to, from and within the USA by 2035,” (IATA) said. “Furthermore, the constraints of the federal budgetary, managerial and procurement processes create enormous structural hurdles to modernization. Now is the time to move forward with transformation in the USA through the creation of a separate, corporatized non-profit entity to manage USA skies.”

Airlines for America (A4A) called President Trump’s (ATC) proposal a “bold step that will lead to the governance and funding reforms needed to move our air traffic control (ATC) infrastructure into the 21st century,” adding, “Our system is safe, but it is outdated and not as efficient as it should—or could—be. We need to stop accepting pockets of progress and put in place a modernized system that better serves the traveling and shipping public.”

The budget blueprint also seeks to save $175 million from the (DOT)’s budget by completely eliminating the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, which was established in the 1970s to subsidize airlines’ flights on routes to rural markets that otherwise would not have commercial air service. “(EAS) flights are not full and have high subsidy costs per passenger,” the President Trump budget blueprint stated. “Several (EAS)-eligible communities are relatively close to major airports, and communities that have (EAS) could be served by other existing modes of transportation.”

* Passenger security fee hike

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), unlike most federal departments, would get an increase in appropriations under Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget plan (a $2.8 billion, or 6.8%, increase from fiscal year 2017). But the added funding is aimed at immigration enforcement activities and not the (TSA), which the administration said should refocus on its “core mission” of airport security checkpoint screening and “ensuring federal security standards are enforced throughout the transportation system.”

Under the President Trump budget plan, the airline passenger security fee would be raised “to recover 75% of the cost of (TSA) aviation security operations,” according to the blueprint document. The security fee, implemented after "9/11," is currently $5.60 per one-way trip for all flights departing from a USA airport, a raise from $2.50 that was enacted in 2013. Under legislation passed by Congress in 2014, the fee cannot exceed $11.20 for a roundtrip ticket. The (TSA) has said aviation security expenses totaled just >$6 billion in fiscal year 2016, $2.2 billion of which was covered by offsetting aviation security collections (well under 50%, let alone 75%).

Even if every dollar of flight ticket passenger security fees (totaling $3.7 billion in fiscal year 2016) were allocated to airport security screening (which is not currently the case) there would still be a substantial shortfall to get to funding 75% of aviation security expenditures.

(A4A) “stands in firm opposition to tax increases that further burden consumers and risk deterring air travel,” an (A4A) spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “USA aviation and our customers are already subject to 17 federal aviation taxes and ‘fees,’ in addition to standard corporate taxes. In fiscal year 2016 alone, special USA taxes on airlines and their customers totaled approximately $23.1 billion (more than $63 million per day). Tax increases are not the answer.”

The (A4A) spokesperson noted that the 2013 rise in the security fee diverted some of the funds collected as part of the fee to “to offset deficit spending, [meaning] that the traveling public will pay $13 billion in security fees over the next 10 years that won’t actually be spent on the (TSA).”

The budget blueprint said $80 million will be saved by eliminating and reducing “unauthorized and underperforming programs administered by the (TSA).” Importantly, this includes the “elimination of (TSA) grants to state and local jurisdictions, a program intended to incentivize local law enforcement patrols that should already be a high priority for state and local partners,” the blueprint stated. That likely means state and local governments would face a greater funding burden regarding airport security not related to screening checkpoints, such as perimeter patrols.

The budget blueprint does call for the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) to receive $624 million for aeronautics research and development, with a particular focus on “eventual over-land commercial supersonic flights and safer, more efficient air travel.”

The President Trump budget blueprint sets the stage for what is expected to be a robust debate in Congress this year on federal spending for the next fiscal year.

News Item A-3: Noting the USA airline industry saw its 7th consecutive year of profitability in 2016, the (FAA) is projecting the USA will see a “competitive and profitable aviation industry characterized by increasing demand for air travel [with] airfares growing more slowly than inflation” over the next 20 years, according to the (FAA)'s annual Aerospace Forecast for fiscal years 2017 - 3037.

“Looking ahead, there is confidence that the industry has been transformed from that of a boom-to-bust cycle to one of sustainable profits,” the (FAA) said in its report.

Traffic growth by USA mainline and regional carriers will increase at an average rate of 2.4% per year, with domestic traffic forecast to increase +2% per year and international traffic projected to increase +3.4% per year. The entire USA system will see traffic increase +65% by 2037, the (FAA) projected.

Passenger growth on USA carriers will increase at an average +1.9% per year over the next 20 years, down slightly from last year’s forecast. Low oil prices will continue to drive the uptick in passenger growth seen in 2016 through 2017, the (FAA) said, but the price of oil is expected to rise from approximately $39 per barrel in 2017 to $47 in 2017. “Our forecast assumes that [oil] will rise thereafter to exceed $100 by 2026 and approach $132 by the end of the forecast period,” the (FAA) said. However, certain economic headwinds, such as the fallout from Brexit, recessions in Brazil and Russia, and uncertainty about the impact of President Trump Administration’s policies on economic growth, may alter these trends.

FAA sees US carriers’ capacity growth will grow in line with increases in demand. “The number of seats per aircraft is getting bigger, especially in the regional jet market” the (FAA) said. “We expect the number of 50 seat regional jets to fall to just a handful by 2023, replaced by 70 - 90 seat airplane.”

FAA is projecting the next five years will see a rebuilding of international demand by USA carriers, with increases of approximately 3.5% per year in passengers, traffic and capacity. The (FAA) projects airlines will exercise capacity restraint and the overall international load factor will stabilize to around 81.3% LF.

For USA carriers, Latin America will continue to be the largest international destination. Between 2017 and 2037, Latin America enplanements are forecast to increase +4.1% a year on average while traffic will grow +4.4% a year. Traffic to the Pacific region over the next 2 decades is expected to grow +2.6% per year. Transatlantic traffic to Europe, the Middle East and Africa is projected to grow +3% per year.

For freight transported on USA all-cargo carriers and in the bellies of passenger aircraft, total revenue-ton-miles (RTMs) are forecast to grow +1.4% in 2017, recovering from a -0.9% decrease in 2016. Average annual (RTM) growth will be +3.1% over the next 2 decades, the (FAA) said.

With this year’s forecast, the (FAA) is now projecting growth in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Over the next 5 years, the (FAA) projects the small model hobbyist (UAV) fleet will more than triple, from approximately 1.1 million (UAV)s in operation at the end of 2016 to 3.5 million in operation by 2021. The commercial (UAV) fleet is projected to increase from 42,000 at the end of 2016 to 442,000 by 2021.

April 2017: News Item A-1: "(FAA) Issued Safety Bulletin on (PED)s after USA Carry-on Ban" by Karen Walker, April 7, 2017.

The (FAA) has issued a Safety Information Bulletin (SIB) related to the new security bans on most personal electronics in carry-on bags on certain flights, but is not making that (SIB) public.

An (FAA) spokesperson confirmed questions that the (FAA) issued the (SIB) when the USA Department of Homeland Security implemented its ban on passenger personal electronic devices (PEDs) larger than smartphones in the cabin on direct flights from 10 airports (most of them in the Middle East) to the USA.

That ban, introduced in March, was followed by a similar security rule by the UK government, although the British ban applies to direct flights to the UK from 6 countries and the affected airports do not align with the USA list.

USA government officials, when briefing media on the new rules March 20, said they were aware of fire safety concerns that the new rules raise because it leads to larger numbers of lithium battery-powered (PED)s being loaded into the cargo holds of affected airlines. They said they were “coordinating very closely” with the (FAA) about how to implement the new security rules while maintaining airplane safety.

But the (FAA)’s response on April 7 indicates the (FAA) did more than coordinate and advise (it issued a (SIB) at the time of the ban). “The (FAA) issued a (SIB) when the (DHS) made the original announcement. The (EASA) and (ICAO) related bulletins were based on language in the original (FAA) bulletin,” the spokesperson said. That is a reference to subsequent bulletins from (ICAO) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The (EASA)’s bulletin, issued earlier this week, describes (PED)s as “dangerous goods” in the cargo hold. “Certain precautions should therefore be observed to mitigate the risk of accidental fire in the cargo hold. In particular, (PED)s placed in checked baggage must be completely switched off and well protected from accidental activation,” (EASA) said.

A USA aviation safety advocacy organization also joined those agencies in raising concerns about potential fire hazard risks caused by the USA and UK bans.

The Washington DC-base Flight Safety Foundation (FSF), an independent, nonprofit, international organization, issued a statement warning that the bans “significantly increase the number of (PED)s carried in cargo holds” and urging the industry to “fully consider the consequential risk” associated with that change. “There have been occasions when the lithium batteries in (PED)s have suffered thermal runaway and caught fire. To mitigate this risk, cabin crew has been trained in how to manage these situations. With the transport of (PED)s on certain flights now restricted to the cargo hold, along with other potentially flammable items within checked-in baggage, a known and managed risk has effectively been transferred to another part of the aircraft where, should thermal runaway occur, it is rendered inaccessible to cabin crew,” the (FSF) stated.

Like (EASA), (FSF) emphasized that devices are placed in checked baggage must be powered off, be protected from accidental activation, and be protected from damage, but added, “the risk, however, that some of these items may be left on cannot be overlooked.”

News Item A-2: (STG) Aerospace has secured (FAA) approval for the installation of its (LED) liTeMood system on the Boeing 757 series of airplanes. This announcement follows the earlier (FAA) approval given for the 737NG series in 2015 and complements existing (EASA) approvals.

May 2017: "USA President Trump Backs ATC Separation from FAA by 2021"

The President Trump administration has given its full backing to the creation of a “non-profit, independent corporation” separate from the (FAA) to manage USA air traffic control (ATC), proposing that the new entity be operational by 2021 after a “multi-year” transfer.

See Photo: "White House Office of Management & Budget Director Mick Mulvaney Details the Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Proposal."

June 2017: News Item A-1: "Chao: Current (FAA) Setup Means Capacity Cannot be Increased Safely" by Aaron Karp, June 8, 2017.

USA Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the (FAA) cannot both increase the country’s air system capacity and maintain safety in its current configuration. Testifying before the USa House of Representatives June 8, Chao reiterated USA President Trump administration’s support for separating air traffic control (ATC) from the (FAA), pushing for Congress to include the creation of “a private, non-profit cooperative for air traffic control” in (FAA) re-authorization legislation expected to be taken up later this year.

“Our skies are becoming increasingly congested; flight delays and time wasted on the tarmac waiting for clearance are the new normal,” she said. “Some domestic flights between the same 2 cities today actually take longer than they did decades ago because of congestion and indirect routing. What this means is that we do not have a system that can handle increasing capacity and still maintain safety.”

Chao said the federal government is too “bulky” to “move fast enough to keep pace with new technologies and new demands,” adding, “A private nonprofit entity with the flexibility and authority to make investment decisions can move much more quickly to replace old equipment and paper flight strips with the latest technology.”

Chao said the “private entity” managing (ATC) should be supported by user fees and governed by an “impartial board of directors.” Surplus revenue generated by the new entity “will be reinvested to keep the system current,” Chao said.

The Transportation Secretary said the (FAA)’s NextGen modernization program, which aims to transform USA (ATC) from a ground radar-based system to a satellite-based system, “has been implemented at certain airports and facilities under current constraints,” but “the (FAA)’s efforts are often hampered by piecemeal government appropriations and a slow federal procurement process.”

Chao added, “A private, non-profit (ATC) co-op would be able to leverage private sector financial tools with agility and ingenuity, and accelerate advances in aviation technology. Combined with a steady, predictable revenue stream from user fees and borrowing from capital markets when necessary, the new (ATC) would be able to make the best modernization investment decisions to keep (ATC) technology up-to-date and competitive with that of our global peers.”

News Item A-2: "House, Senate Clash Over (ATC) Spinoff Proposal" by
Aaron Karp, June 23, 2017.

Familiar divisions over (FAA) re-authorization resurfaced in the USA Congress as differing legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives & Senate.

With a September 30 deadline looming for reauthorizing the (FAA), House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (Republican-Pennsylvania) again proposed a bill that would remove Air Traffic Control (ATC) management from the (FAA) and create an independent, non-profit entity to run the USA (ATC).

But just like last year, when Shuster introduced similar legislation, Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (Republican-South Dakota) followed up by introducing a bill that did not include an (ATC) spinoff proposal and would leave the current (FAA) structure intact.

The disparate bills set up a contentious battle on Capitol Hill this summer over (FAA) re-authorization. Even if Shuster can get House leaders to bring up his bill for a vote (which did not happen last year) and convince the full House to pass it, any (ATC) reform would stall without Senate backing. Shuster’s bill modifies his proposal from last year in ways that are aimed at generating wider support, including creating a larger board to govern the new (ATC) entity, giving seats at the table to major airlines, cargo carriers, regional airlines, general aviation (GA), business aviation, air traffic controllers, airports and commercial pilots (FC). It also would exempt (GA) from paying user fees.

USA President Donald Trump has endorsed Shuster’s plan to remove (ATC) from the (FAA), though the President has not weighed in on the specific bill, Shuster introduced. Shuster said there is broader backing in the House for his bill this year compared to last year, citing support from some Democrats and some backers of (GA) who were wary of the 2016 version.

But Thune’s bill eschews (ATC) reform in favor of an approach that emphasizes areas of bipartisan agreement, such as imposing criminal penalties for “reckless” unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operators and instituting new consumer protections for airline passengers, including creating a standard method for airlines to disclose ancillary fees.

The bill has already garnered support from leading Democrats, including Senator Bill Nelson (Democrat-Florida), the top Democrat on the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee, who called the proposed legislation “a good example of what can happen when Republicans and Democrats work toward the same goal.”

Thune said the Senate bill “focuses on enhancing safety, improving air travel for the traveling public, and reforms to help bring the future of aviation closer to reality.” There are some similar provisions in both bills, including prohibiting airlines from removing passengers from aircraft after boarding, except for security or safety reasons (a direct response to the United Airlines (UAL) passenger dragging incident.

Both the House and Senate transportation panels plan to “markup” the bills soon (lawmakers on the committees will have an opportunity to propose changes). That will begin the (FAA) re-authorization legislative process with the goal of both chambers of Congress passing a unified bill by September 30 for President Trump to sign into law.

News Item A-3: "Senate (FAA) Bill’s Airline Fee, Pilot Training Provisions Spur Controversy" by (ATW) Aaron Karp, June 30, 2017.

Two provisions in the USA Senate’s FAA reauthorization legislation cleared June 29 by a key committee received immediate pushback.

Both provisions, one relating to airline fees and the other related to commercial pilot (FC) training, were added as amendments during a June 29 markup process in the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee, which has cleared the way for the bill to be voted on by the full Senate.

Senator Edward Markey (Democrat-Massachusetts) was successful in adding language to the bill that would direct the USA Department of Transportation (DOT) to determine which airline fees “are not reasonable and proportional to the costs incurred by the air carriers” and regulate those fees, including checked baggage fees. Senator John Thune (Republican-South Dakota), the Chairman of the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee, added an amendment that would allow the (FAA) to approve “structured and disciplined training courses” as a substitute for some of the 1,500 flight hours pilots (FC) are required to accumulate, before becoming a commercial airline first officer.

Airlines for America (A4A) did not directly criticize the Senate committee for approving a bill that does not spin off USA air traffic control (ATC) from the (FAA), which is the main component of the House of Representatives version of the (FAA) reauthorization that (A4A) backs. (A4A) President & (CEO), Nicholas Calio said the airline lobbying group “looks forward” to working with Thune “on advancing the dialogue” on the issue of creating an independent, non-profit entity to manage (ATC). Thune, for his part, has said he is open to discussing the issue, but warned there is not wide support for the (ATC) spinoff idea in the Senate, which is why it was excluded from the chamber’s (FAA) bill.

However, (A4A) was not as diplomatic in its response to the Markey amendment on airline fee regulation. “While much of this bill is a step forward, a provision introduced by [Markey] to re-regulate the airline industry through government-mandated price controls should be rejected,” (A4A) said. “The price of airfare today is at a historic low when adjusted for inflation. This provision is not warranted and would harm the flying public, leading to increased costs and reduced accessibility.”

Thune’s amendment regarding pilot (FC) flight hour requirements, aimed at addressing concerns over a pilot (FC) shortage, did receive pushback from Democrats of the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee, making it the only amendment proposed during the markup that required more than a voice vote to gain approval. Ultimately, Thune prevailed by a 14-13 vote, and the amendment is now part of the bill. Senate Democrats have warned the provision could scuttle the wide bipartisan support for the Senate bill when it comes to the floor for a vote, complicating its prospects for passing.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) pushed back against the amendment with strong language, saying that it will “weaken airline pilot training, qualification and experience requirements put in place by Congress in 2010 to make flying safer in the wake of >30 airline accidents. Those who supported this amendment will be responsible for endangering the flying public, should it become law. The traveling public should consider what these senators have done to jeopardize safety.”

July 2017: The (FAA) and the Civilian Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) signed a Maintenance Agreement Guidance (MAG) document on July 12 to implement mutual surveillance of certified repair stations located abroad for each of the agreement partners.

The (MAG) agreement follows up on the 2 agencies’ maintenance implementation procedures (MIP) agreement signed by (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta and the (CAAS) in February 2016.

The (MIP) provided the USA and Singapore with the framework in which the (FAA) and the (CAAS) can conduct surveillance on each other’s behalf to ensure compliance with each country’s respective regulatory requirements for maintenance and applicable special conditions, the (FAA) said.

The new agreement provides guidance for implementation of the earlier (MIP) agreement, which the (FAA) said was the 1st of its kind in Asia and reduces industry costs and authority resources. “In cases where there are sufficient certificated facilities in both partner countries, (MIP)s may reduce the number of surveillance activities, free up inspector resources for the authorities, and reduce the regulatory burden on industry,” the (FAA) said, noting there are 58 (FAA)-approved repair stations located in Singapore.

Both the (MIP) and (MAG) agreements follow on the USA - Singapore Bilateral Safety Agreement signed in 2004, which the (FAA) described as benefiting both countries with time savings and cost reductions in aircraft design and manufacturing.

August 2017: News Item A-1: "Can a Partial Shutdown of the (FAA) be Avoided?" by (ATW) Aaron Karp in AirKarp, August 8, 2017.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for an (FAA) re-authorization bill including major air traffic control (ATC) reform (namely, the separation of Air Traffic Control (ATC) operations from the (FAA)) to pass the USA Congress in the next couple of months. At this point, avoiding a costly partial shutdown of the (FAA) this autumn is the best one can realistically hope for (and a disruption to the (FAA) operations resulting from either the (FAA)’s authorization expiring or a wider government shutdown, is absolutely possible in the coming months.

As always, the (FAA) is likely to get lost in the mix, as the USA Federal Government hurtles toward a potential fiscal crisis in late September/early October. Here are 3 key deadlines to keep in mind:

1) The (FAA)’s authorization expires September 30.

2) The USA Federal Government’s funding authority runs out on September 30.

3) The USA Federal Government is expected to hit its debt ceiling in early October.

The 3rd of these is the most pressing, with potentially wide-ranging global economic consequences if the debt ceiling is actually breached, and this issue will likely start to dominate Washington DC by next month, eclipsing all other issues. There is no sign that the Congress and the White House have devised a workable plan to pass legislation to raise the debt ceiling, a concerning development, given how little time is left on the Congressional calendar in the remainder of the USA government’s fiscal year ending September 30. (Congress is on a month-long recess now, and the House of Representatives only has 12 in-session days scheduled between now and the end of September.)

That also leaves little time to pass a new budget for the next fiscal year starting October 1. Funding is not authorized for any federal department or agency beyond September 30. A partial shutdown of the entire government, sending home all non-essential workers, on October 1 is a very real possibility, especially since President Donald Trump tweeted in the spring that “our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September.” If President Trump wants a shutdown, there will be one.

In the event of a government shutdown, air traffic controllers would be considered essential workers and kept on the job, but many (FAA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) functions would be put on hold.

So before Congress and the White House get to (FAA) re-authorization, there have to be deals negotiated on the debt ceiling and the federal budget. Those hoping for House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster’s (ATC) reform plan (backed by President Trump) to be passed into law this year are likely to be disappointed. The House has yet to vote on Shuster’s plan (and until Shuster shows that it can actually pass the full House, the Senate will not be interested). The Senate version of the (FAA) re-authorization, which has also not yet had a floor vote, does not include spinning off (ATC) functions.

“There’s just a lot of controversy around the change,” Southwest Airlines (SWA) Chairman & (CEO) Gary Kelly, a strong supporter of creating an independent, non-profit (NAV) Canada-like entity to manage USA (ATC), recently said. “I’d be the 1st to recognize that there’s just a lot of work to do. I don’t know that there’s a vote scheduled in the House, so they might not have the votes [to pass the legislation]. If we don’t accelerate the pace [of (ATC) modernization] then we will face a real capacity crisis in the air. The airspace is getting less and less efficient. Air traffic controllers are doing a great job of keeping things safe, but they do that by slowing the system down.”

Noting the White House, a growing contingent in the House and most USA airlines (Delta Air Lines (DAL) is a notable holdout) support (ATC) reform, Kelly said there is “momentum” building to spin off the (ATC) from the (FAA). But there simply isn’t time before September 30 for the House and Senate (FAA) bills to pass, a compromise to be negotiated between the disparate pieces of legislation and the full Congress to pass an (FAA) re-authorization bill to send to President Trump’s desk for signature into law. Especially if you take into account the wider budget and debt ceiling issues hanging over Congress.

That means a mad scramble to pass some kind of short-term (FAA) extension to avoid an embarrassing partial shutdown of the (FAA) like the 1 that happened in 2011, when around 4,000 (FAA) employees were placed on furlough and construction projects at airports across the USA halted. Again, controllers would remain on the job, but an expiration of the (FAA)’s authorization would no doubt be disruptive for the USA airline industry.

Could there be some kind of grand fiscal compromise that includes a new federal budget, raising the debt ceiling and major (ATC) reform? Possible (President Trump claims to like making big deals) but this Congress and this White House have so far not demonstrated a great deal of acumen in negotiating and passing significant legislation. So enjoy August, because a crisis atmosphere is coming to Washington DC in September and (FAA) operations could be in flux throughout the fall.

News Item A-2: The (FAA) has announced US$2.1 billion in airport improvement program (AIP) grants thus far in 2017, covering 1,351 grants to >1,200 USA airports, according to the USA Department of Transportation (DOT). Construction and repairs for 564 runways and 475 taxiways fall within the scope of the new projects.

So far in August, the (FAA) has awarded US$330 million in airport improvement program (AIP) grants to 136 USA airports. Of the total, US$183 million are discretionary funds awarded to 45 airports based on high-priority project needs.

Grants are awarded to commercial-passenger (primary), commercial service and general aviation airports alike, as well as block grant programs to individual states for non-primary development projects.

USA airports are entitled to a certain amount of airport improvement program (AIP) grants every year, the (DOT) said, based on passenger volume. Discretionary funds are provided as supplements if an airport's capital project exceeds its entitlement.

Larger grants awarded in this group of airports include:

* Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida: US$23.5 million in combined (AIP) and discretionary funding and US$13.3 million in additional (AIP) funding to reconstruct taxiway R, in anticipation of increased air cargo operations (US$36.8 million total).

* Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), North Carolina: US$16.6 million in combined (AIP) and discretionary funding to rehabilitate a taxiway.

* Pullman/Moscow Regional Airport (PUW), Washington: US$15.3 million in combined (AIP) and discretionary funding to realign, extend and widen runway 6/24.

* Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO), Greensboro, North Carolina: US$14.1 million in combined (AIP) and discretionary funding to repair runway 5R/23L.

* Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), Pennsylvania: US$12.3 in combined (AIP) and discretionary funding to reconstruct a deicing pad and associated facilities.

* Cuyahoga County Airport (CGF), Ohio: US$11.5 million in combined (AIP) and discretionary funds to rehabilitate and extend runway 06/24, plus installation of weather reporting equipment at this corporate and general aviation airport near Cleveland.

* Chicago/Rockford International Airport (RFD), Illinois: US$10.2 in combined (AIP) and discretionary funds to expand the airport terminal building and expand the air cargo apron where aircraft park.

* Hilton Head Island Airport (HXD), South Carolina: US$7.9 million in combined (AIP) and discretionary funding to extend runway 03/21 and improve the runway's safety area.

September 2017: News Item A-1: USA lawmakers are debating how long after October 1 to extend the current (FAA) authorization, with some senators and House Democrats seeking 6 months, while a leading House Republican is believed to be pushing for less. According to Representative Peter DeFazio (Democrat-Oregon) (the ranking member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, who is leading his chamber’s caucus in support of the senators) any extension <6 months would harm the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).

News Item A-2: Top aviation industry officials paid tribute to Jane Garvey, and 2 former USA Presidents sent letters of congratulations, as the former (FAA) Administrator received the "2017 L Welch Pogue Award" on September 7 for lifetime achievement in aviation.

The dinner, jointly hosted by Aviation Week & Space Technology and the International Aviation Club, was held at the Jones Day building in Washington DC on September 8.

Garvey was the 14th (FAA) administrator, the 1st woman to lead the agency and the 1st to serve a full 5-year term. She served under Democrat and Republican Presidents (1st Bill Clinton and then George W Bush). Letters of congratulations and appreciation for her service from each of the Presidents were read during the award ceremony.

Current (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta and USA Congressman Richard Neal each delivered remarks at the podium praising Garvey, while video tributes were made by United Airlines (UAL) (CEO) Oscar Munoz and other aviation executives.

Huerta described Garvey as a “colleague, friend and incredible mentor” who had been “a steady hand in the dark days after 9/11.”

Garvey is noted for her collaborative approach and ability to bring together all stakeholders. In her acceptance remarks, she said it was “an incredible privilege” to be called for public service and she praised the commercial air transport industry for allowing more people to travel farther, more often and more safely than ever before. That is a “remarkable achievement no less important than those achieved by aviation pioneers such as the Wright Brothers and Charles Lindbergh, she said.

“At its core, the enterprise story of aviation is its people. All the progress that we have made in this industry has come from 1 source (the spirit of community),” Garvey said.

The Pogue Lifetime Achievement in Aviation Award was 1st awarded to Pogue in 1994. A former chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), he was instrumental in creating the modern civil aviation system, including the Chicago Convention agreement.

Other recipients include American Airlines (AAL) Chairman & (CEO) Bob Crandall, (NTSB) Vice Chairman Bob Francis, Southwest Airlines (SWA) former Chairman & (CEO) Herb Kelleher, (CAB) Chairman Alfred Kahn and USA Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta.

News Item A-3: The (FAA) delivered a mobile air traffic control tower to Hurricane Irma-battered Cyril E King International Airport (STT) in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands, on September 13. The existing air traffic control tower at (STT) was badly damaged by the storm, and its air traffic controllers were forced to operate from a tent on the airfield for several days prior to the mobile tower’s arrival.

The (FAA) said the new temporary tower is fully staffed and was operational by 9:40 am, local time, supporting relief flights by the US military, (FEMA), and general aviation. Controllers are being shuttled to St Thomas from San Juan, Puerto Rico every day to staff the facility, the (FAA) said.

The mobile tower was transported via a (USAF) C17 from Boise, Idaho, along with a custom-made trailer and a truck to unload it. “The tower is equipped with an engine generator, an air conditioner, 4 radios for the air traffic controllers and instruments to measure barometric pressure, as well as wind speed and direction,” the (FAA) said. “The tower arrived in St Thomas at 6:15 am and was fully operational in 3 hours and 25 minutes.”

Additionally, the (FAA) has an airport certification inspector on site at (STT) to ensure the airport is safe before commercial air carrier operations can resume. "He is working closely with the Virgin Islands Port Authority to ensure that its operation is stabilized, airport safety procedures are in place, all hazards are mitigated and the airport is fully compliant with federal regulations, so recovery efforts can expand and continue,” the (FAA) said.

American Airlines (AAL) said it expects to resume a limited schedule at (STT) on Saturday, September 16.

October 2017: News Item A-1: "(EASA) and (FAA) Streamline Certification Processes" by (ATA) Victoria Moores October 20, 2017.

European air transport regulator (EASA) and its USA counterpart the (FAA) have updated their aviation safety agreement, paving the way for simpler certifications.

(EASA) and the (FAA) already have a reciprocal agreement in force, under which aircraft certifications granted by 1 authority are recognized and validated by the other. “The new technical implementation procedures (TIP) revision will permit increased acceptance of approvals, without technical involvement by the Authority conducting the validation. In certain cases, the revised (TIP) also will allow a streamlined validation process to expedite issuance of a type certificate without technical review.”

The changes, which enter force on March 22, 2018, mean the 2 authorities will reduce duplication and rely more on 1 another’s resources and expertise. “When technical involvement is necessary to validate a product, a work plan will now be required to define the extent of the validating authority’s involvement,” the (FAA) said.

News Item A-2: "On October 27 2017, the (FAA) and the (CAAC) (CAC) of China signed a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement" as reported by Vero Venia.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced the signing of an implementing agreement under the USA and China Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) recognizing each other’s regulatory systems with respect to the airworthiness of aviation products and articles.

The Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness (IPA) document allows each authority to leverage approvals completed by the other with respect to design, production, and airworthiness as well as continued airworthiness. The agreement uses the compatibilities of the 2 authorities’ certification systems and fulfills the commitment that the USA and China made in 2005 with the establishment of a (BASA).

* Implications

Vero Venia stated he is pretty sure people out there know exactly what it means and what the implications are, so he would not discuss it too much although he thought it would not be long before (EASA) will sign a similar bilateral agreement with the (CAAC).

The Chinese C919 development program should have followed the process that allows it to be compliant with that defined by the (FAA), including the documentation like the whole requirement management and other administrative stuffs. And yes, developing an aircraft is not only about designing parts, but it is also about maintaining proper documentation and quality assurance of the processes.

China of today is certainly much different that China of 40 years ago. Things have changed and many Chinese had western-style education or even attended universities in the USA and other Western countries. Some of them worked or are working in big aerospace companies.

There is not any doubt that China can develop a good commercial aircraft industry. It may take some time before any new product will be widely accepted, but China will ultimately be successful in this area.

December 2017: The USA and the European Union (EU) are amending 2 joint agreements expanding cooperation on aviation safety and air traffic management (ATC) modernization.

Officials from the (FAA), the (EU) and the European Commission (EC) co-signed the amendments in Brussels on December 13.

The amendment to the USA - (EU) Safety Agreement, which originally took effect May 1, 2011, enables the (FAA) and the (EU) to move forward with reciprocal acceptance of flight simulator training devices and pilot licensing approvals. A go-ahead for future collaboration in aircraft operations and air traffic safety oversight is also part of the new amendment. The (FAA) cited the agreement’s intention to avoid duplication, leverage resources, streamline procedures and reduce costs.

The 2nd amendment addressed expanding USA - (EU) collaboration in (ATC) modernization, which the (FAA) said will now cover the full cycle of (ATC) modernization activities from development to deployment, including harmonizing air traffic technologies, standards and procedures between the (FAA)’s NextGen and the (EU)’s (SESAR) (ATC) modernization programs.

“Our collaboration remains vitally important for the safe and efficient movement of passengers and cargo on both sides of the Atlantic,” (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta said at the signing.

“The broadened scope of the 2 agreements we signed today confirms the strong commitment to continue to work together for the future of aviation safety,” European Commission (DG) (MOVE) Director Henrik Hololei said. Estonia’s permanent representative to the (EU), Ambassador Kaja Tael, was the 3rd signatory to the amendments.

January 2018: News Item A-1: "Reports: 2017 was Aviation’s Safest Year Yet" by (ATW) Victoria Moores ( January 2, 2018.

Preliminary figures from 2 reports have shown 2017 to be the safest year in commercial aviation history, with no fatal large passenger jet accidents, although lives were lost in regional and cargo aircraft crashes. The Aviation Safety Network (ASN), a Netherlands-based company associated with the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF), reported a total of 10 fatal accidents in 2017, resulting in the deaths of 44 people on board and 35 on the ground. 5 of those were cargo flights, while the remaining 5 were non-jet passenger flights. The figures are based on world wide fatal accidents involving commercial aircraft, certified to carry 14 or more passengers.

The (ASN) said the 2017 figure of 1 fatality per 7.36 million flights was “extremely low,” resulting in the safest year ever for commercial aviation, both in terms of the number of fatal accidents and the number of lives lost. In 2016, the (ASN) recorded 16 accidents with 303 fatalities.

“On December 31, aviation had a record period of 398 days with no passenger jet airliner accidents. Additionally, a record period of 792 days passed since the previous civil aircraft accident, claiming >100 lives,” (ASN) said.

A separate report by Dutch consultancy firm "To70" agreed that 2017 was an “exceptionally good year” for civil aviation safety, reporting only 2 fatal passenger airline accidents, both involving small turboprops. "To70" limits its report to larger passenger aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 5,700kg/12,566 lb or above. Cargo flights are excluded.

In 2017, (To70) recorded 111 accidents, 2 of which included fatalities, resulting in 0.06 fatal accidents per million large commercial aircraft flights. This compares with their 2016 figure of 6 fatalities from 71 accidents. “With so few fatal accidents to examine, it is worth remembering that there were also several quite serious non-fatal accidents in 2017. There is no room for complacency. Civil aviation, while an industry with a very high level of safety does still carry very large risks.”

Commenting on the reports, (ICAO) Secretary General Fang Liu said, “(ICAO) is very encouraged that no major hull losses and very few fatalities were reported for 2017 flights. These results speak to the commitment and cooperation of the governments, operators, and professional men and women world wide who have worked so hard together to achieve them.” (ICAO) will release its official safety data for 2017 later this year.

News Item A-2: "USA House Transportation Chairman Shuster to Retire at End of 2018" by Aaron Karp ( January 2, 2018.

USA House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (Republican-Pennsylvania) will not seek re-election in 2018, explaining the move will allow him to focus his full attention on passing major, bipartisan infrastructure legislation through Congress. Shuster, who has been in Congress since 2001, is starting his final year as Committee Chairman. Even if he had sought and won re-election, his term running the powerful House Transportation panel would have concluded at year’s end. Shuster is best known in the commercial aviation industry for his steadfast push to separate USA Air Traffic Control (ATC) from the (FAA), but his efforts each of the last 2 years to enact the reform, met resistance in Congress, including from members of his own party.

It is unclear how Shuster’s announcement will affect the (ATC) reform debate; the (FAA)’s reauthorization is needed by March 31 and Shuster may make 1 last push for his (ATC) plan. In announcing his retirement from Congress, however, Shuster cited a major infrastructure bill he indicated will be pushed by USA President Donald Trump. He did not mention (ATC) reform.

Shuster told the "Washington Examiner," which 1st reported the news of his retirement, that he met with Trump in December in the Oval Office and believes the President is ready to back an infrastructure bill. Trump has repeatedly said USA Transportation Infrastructure, including airports, is in need of a significant overhaul. Trump is “very excited” about infrastructure legislation, adding, “He seems to be ready to go, as we are, and so I think we’re going to have a good working relationship as we move forward. It’s an exciting time to be the Chairman of the Committee, so I didn’t want to take my eye off the ball at all.” In confirming his retirement from Congress at the end of the year, Shuster said he will “spend his last year as Chairman focusing 100% on working with President Trump and his Republican and Democratic colleagues in both chambers to pass a much-needed infrastructure bill to rebuild America.”

Shuster appeared to believe removing himself from electoral politics better positioned him to lead on the infrastructure issue. It is
likely he will also be heavily involved in (FAA) reauthorization, which has been a signature issue for the congressman.

News Item A-3: The (FAA)’s national drone registry has surpassed 1 million recreational and commercial small unmanned aircraft users, USA Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said. The web-based registry now counts the names of 878,000 hobbyists (each of whom receive a single identification number for all of the drones he or she flies) and 122,000 commercial, public and other drones, which must be individually registered, Chao said on January 10.

February 2018: News Item A-1: "The (FAA) Warns About Pratt & Whitney (PW-1100) Engine Shutdown Risk on Airbus A320neo Jets" by Rob Vogelaar
"Reuters" February 14, 2018.

The (FAA) formal warning follows a similar action by European regulators on February 9 and cites a "knife edge seal fracture" in the engine that could lead to an engine stall and consequent in-flight shutdown and rejected takeoffs, the (FAA) said in an Airworthiness Directive (AD).

The warnings mark the latest in a string of issues that have clouded the rollout of (PRW)'s new engines, which compete with market-leader (CFM) International, a joint venture of the General Electric Company (GEC) and Safran S A of France.

A total of 98 engines could be affected with 43 confirmed to have the problem and the rest possibly affected, (PRW) said.

(PRW) has not halted production or delivery of engines, not similar (PRW) engines for Bombardier (BMB), Embraer (EMB) or Mitsubishi (MSG) jets.

Airbus (EDS) has halted delivery of A320neos after delivery of 113 of them. It was not clear which airlines had the largest A320neos fleets. Industry sources did say 20 A320neos had been grounded by airlines because of the problem.

News Item A-2: "(FAA) Budget Includes Substantial Cuts in (R&D) Funding, (UAV) Research" by Sean Broderick, (ATW) Daily News, February 16, 2018.

The (FAA)'s fiscal 2019 budget request of US$16.1 billion is about 1.9% down from fiscal 2017's approved level and includes a hefty cut in its Research, Engineering & Development (RE&D) funding. It also calls for slight reductions in operations, and facilities and equipment (F&E), as well as staffing.

The proposed budget, released February 12, includes US$74.4 million for (RE&D), a -58% cut from fiscal 2017 (the last budget approved by Congress, and the 1 the (FAA) is working under until a fiscal 2018 budget is approved. Within the research budget, the (FAA) proposes eliminating funding for general aviation alternative fuels research, saving -US$7 million compared to fiscal 2017; cutting wake turbulence research to US$3.5 million from US$8.6 million; and shaving "environmental research, aircraft technologies, fuels and metrics" research funding to US$7.6 million from US$27.2 million. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research would also get slashed from US$20 million to US$3.3 million.

The (F&E) account would drop from US$2.8 billion to US$2.7 billion, while operations would dip slightly from US$10.0 billion to US$9.9 billion. Proposed staffing levels for fiscal 2019 call for 45,147 employees, down -400 (about 1% from fiscal 2017). The (FAA)'s aviation safety division would be funded at US$1.3 billion in fiscal 2019, close to its fiscal 2017 enacted level.

The (FAA) proposes to keep airport improvement program grant funding at US$3.3 billion. But it did not include a hike in the US$4.50 passenger facility charge (PFC) that most large commercial airports main­tain is key to helping fund some US$100 billion in needed infrastructure improvements. Both the House and the Senate have signaled support for boosting (PFC)s, which have remained capped since 2000, but efforts to boost the fees, which direct funding to pre-approved projects at the airports where they are collected, have stalled before.

"For airports, the answer to building infrastructure is as easy as (PFC)s. Lifting the outdated federal cap on airport user fees would allow airports to utilize local dollars for investment immediately and to leverage those resources through bonds to further multiply their benefit into the future," American Association of Airport Executives President Todd Hauptli said. "If Washington is serious about airport infrastructure investment, it will move quickly to approve the bipartisan proposal on (PFC)s that is under consideration as part of the (FY) 2018 budget package."

Airports Council International North America President & (CEO) Kevin Burke called on Congress to not only boost the (PFC) cap, but make funding eligible for "all security projects that airports are respon­sible for funding."

News Item A-3: "Shuster Will Not Pursue (ATC) Spinoff Proposal" by
Aaron Karp, (ATW) Plus, February 28, 2018.

Bill Shuster (Republican-Pennsylvania), the leading advocate in the USA Congress for spinning off air traffic control (ATC) from the (FAA) has conceded the idea lacks sufficient support on Capitol Hill and therefore will not be pursued in upcoming (FAA) re-authorization legislation.

March 2018: News Item A-1: The massive fiscal year (FY) 2018 spending bill the USA Congress is attempting to push through will increase (FAA) funding nearly +4% over (FY) 2017 figures, including a +13.8% jump in Facilities and Equipment (F&E) spending, where most NextGen air traffic control (ATC) modernization program spending resides, and a boost in airport grant funding. (FAA) funding for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, will top $17 billion, up from $16.4 billion approved for (FY) 2017.

News Item A-2: Following a March 22 cyberattack on the City of Atlanta government, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) temporarily shut down its Wi-Fi system, leaving the airport’s approximately 275,000 daily passengers and 63,000 employees scrambling for internet connectivity. Reportedly, the Atlanta city government experienced a ransomware cyberattack the morning of March 22 impacting multiple internal applications.

April 2018: News Item A-1: "INCDT: One Fatality After Southwest 737 Mid-air Engine Failure" by "Aviation Week" Bill Carey, (, April 17, 2018.

A Southwest Airlines (SWA) Boeing 737-700 made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport on April 17 after an apparent engine failure that caused 1 fatality.

(SWA) flight 1380 was en route from New York La Guardia Airport to Dallas Love Field when passengers heard an explosion involving the left engine, which blew out a window and caused the cabin to depressurize, according to media reports. The flight crew (FC) diverted the 737 to Philadelphia.

The pilots (FC) including Captain Tammie Jo Shults guided the plane carrying 144 passengers and 5 crew to a smooth landing. The jet landed 20 minutes after the explosion.

Powered by twin (CFM56-7B) turbofans, the airplane had reached an altitude of 32,500 feet before descending; it landed at 11:23 am, according to tracking company FlightAware. The 737, registered as (N772SW), was carrying 143 passengers and 5 crew.

Following the landing, the (FAA) imposed a ground stop for airplanes at other airports waiting to depart for Philadelphia. At 1:45 pm, the Philadelphia airport reported the ground stop had been lifted.

The passenger fatality was the 1st on a USA airline since 2009 and (SWA)'s 1st onboard fatality. In December 2005, a (SWA) airplane slid off the runway at Chicago Midway International Airport, through a fence and crashed into a car, killing a child in the car.

“We are deeply saddened to confirm that there is 1 fatality resulting from this incident,” (SWA) said in a late afternoon statement. “The entire Southwest Airlines (SWA) family is devastated and extends its deepest, heartfelt sympathy to the customers, employees, family members and loved ones affected by this tragic event. We have activated our emergency response team and are deploying every resource to support those affected by this tragedy.”

The (NTSB) dispatched a go-team to investigate the scene. Briefly addressing reporters at Reagan Washington National Airport prior to departing for Philadelphia, Chairman Robert Sumwalt described the incident as “an apparent in-flight engine failure,” but declined to use the term uncontained engine failure.

“I don’t want to sound bureaucratic, but ‘uncontained engine failure’ connotates a very specific thing,” Sumwalt said. “The engine is designed not to have an uncontained engine failure. There are protection rings around the engine to keep shrapnel from coming out. Even though we believe that there were parts coming out of this engine, it may not have been in that section of the engine that technically would qualify this as an uncontained engine failure.”

Manufactured by (CFM) International, the joint venture of (GE) Aviation and France’s Safran Aircraft Engines, the (CFM56) engine type entered service in 1997 and has accumulated >350 million flight hours.

“The (NTSB) confirmed that there was 1 fatality. The (CFM) team worldwide expresses its deepest condolences to the family of that victim,” (CFM) spokesperson Jamie Jewell said. “We have sent a team of technical representatives to the site to support the (NTSB) and the investigation, along with supporting (swa).”

In August 2016, a (SWA) 737 en route from New Orleans to Orlando experienced an uncontained engine failure of the left (CFM56) engine after climbing to 31,000 feet. The flight crew (FC) landed the airplane safely at Pensacola International Airport.

* "Southwest’s ‘LUV’ Heart Beats Through Tragedy" by Karen Walker ( in (ATW) Editor's Blog, April 18, 2018.

It’s not something that any airline wants to be in a position to “get right,” but what Gary Kelly and his team at Southwest Airlines (SWA) have demonstrated is the textbook way to respond to a disaster.

Immediately it became clear that something had gone tragically wrong with one of its flights, (SWA)’s emergency response team was at work; with its people, with responders at Philadelphia Airport, where flight 1380 made an emergency landing, getting assistance to those affected, and communicating to the wider public its shock, condolences and what information it had.

USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators are on the scene to establish what happened and why.

For the 144 passengers and 5 crew, it was an awful ordeal. The left engine of the Boeing 737-700 exploded, hurling shrapnel through a window, which broke open. A female passenger was half sucked out of the plane and other passengers battled to keep her inside; she later died. Depressurization meant everyone was wearing oxygen masks and the remaining flight must have been terrifying, even though it was cooly and expertly flown to a safe landing.

But if airlines (or any service company) want a real-world guide on to how to respond in a crisis, they should look at how (SWA) handled this incident. The messaging was quick and easily accessible, distributed on social media, in press statements, at a press conference, and via the posting of a video by (CEO) Kelly.

In that video, Kelly looks shocked, calls it a “sad” and “tragic” day; he expressed his deep condolences to the victim’s family and sympathy to all those affected. He said they are (SWA)’s top priority and pledged every assistance to them. He made clear that it was an engine failure and that (SWA) would give the (NTSB) investigation its full support. He thanked the crew and those at Philadelphia Airport for their actions. And he promised more information as it became available.

With impressive speed, the company offered a "from the top" message of heartfelt condolences, assistance to those directly affected; transparency, gratitude to those who helped, and a promise to find out what went wrong.

No airline (CEO) wants to be in the position Kelly was in this week. But all airlines should have crisis communications plans. And while it will be no comfort to (SWA)’s People, they should be commended for their preparation and professionalism in a crisis.

"‘Nerves of Steel’: She Calmly Landed the Southwest Airlines Flight and Broke Barriers as a Fighter Pilot" by Samantha Schmidt, "The Washington Post," April 17, 2018.

In the midst of the chaos, Southwest Airlines (SWA) pilot Captain Tammie Jo Shults successfully completed an emergency landing of the Boeing 737 in Philadelphia, saving the lives of 148 people and averting a far worse catastrophe.

The Captain’s voice was calm yet focused, as her plane descended with 149 people on board. “Southwest 1380, we’re single engine,” Captain Tammie Jo Shults, a former fighter pilot with the US Navy, said. “We have part of the airplane missing so we’re going to need to slow down a bit.” She asked for medical personnel to meet her airplane on the runway. “We’ve got injured passengers.”

“Injured passengers, okay and is your airplane physically on fire?” asked a male voice on the other end, according to an air traffic recording. “No, it’s not on fire, but part of it’s missing,” Shults said, pausing for a moment. “They said there’s a hole, and uh, someone went out.”

The engine on Shults’ plane had, in fact, exploded, spraying shrapnel into the airplane, causing a window to be blown out and leaving one passenger dead and 7 others injured. Frightened passengers on board the Dallas-bound flight braced for impact as oxygen masks muffled their screams.

In the midst of the chaos, Shults successfully completed an emergency landing at the Philadelphia International Airport, saving the lives of 148 people and averting a far worse catastrophe.

“She has nerves of steel,” one passenger, Alfred Tumlinson, told the Associated Press. “That lady, I applaud her. I’m going to send her a Christmas card (I’m going to tell you that) with a gift certificate for getting me on the ground. She was awesome.”

Another passenger, Diana McBride Self, thanked Shults on Facebook for her “guidance and bravery in a traumatic situation.” She added that Shults “came back to speak to each of us personally.” “This is a true American Hero,” she wrote. Others on social media agreed, even comparing Shults with Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who glided his US Airways plane to safety in New York’s Hudson River in 2009.

It was also no surprise to her that Tammie Jo Shults was the pilot credited with the skillful landing. Shults’ mother-in-law and friends described her as a pioneer in the aviation field, a woman who broke barriers to pursue her goals.

She was among the 1st female fighter pilots for the US Navy, according to her alma mater, MidAmerica Nazarene University, from which she graduated in 1983. Cindy Foster, who went to college with her, told the "Kansas City Star" that Shults was also among the 1st women to fly an F/A-18 Hornet for the Navy. “She said she wasn’t going to let anyone tell her she couldn’t,” Foster said.

Shults’s persistence in becoming a pilot goes back to her upbringing on a New Mexico ranch, near Holloman Air Force Base, Shults wrote in the book “Military Fly Moms,” by Linda Maloney.

“Some people grow up around aviation. I grew up under it,” she wrote. Watching the daily air show, she knew she “just had to fly” She recalled attending a lecture on aviation during her senior year of high school, in 1979. A retired colonel started the class by asking Shults, the only girl in attendance, “if I was lost.”

“I mustered up the courage to assure him I was not and that I was interested in flying,” she wrote. “He allowed me to stay but assured me there were no professional women pilots.”

When she met a woman in college who had received her Air Force wings, she wrote, “I set to work trying to break into the club.” But Shults, whose maiden name is Bonnell, wrote that the Air Force “wasn’t interested” in talking to her. The Navy let her apply for aviation officer candidate school, “but there did not seem to be a demand for women pilots.”

“Finally,” she wrote, a year after taking the Navy aviation exam, she found a recruiter who would process her application. After aviation officer candidate school in Pensacola, Florida, she was assigned to a training squadron at Naval Air Station Chase Field in Beeville, Texas, as an instructor pilot teaching student aviators how to fly the Navy T-2 trainer. She later left to fly the A-7 Corsair in Lemoore, California.

By then, she met her “knight in shining airplane,” a fellow pilot who would become her husband, Dean Shults. (He also now flies for (SWA)).

Because of the combat exclusion law, Tammie Jo Shults was prohibited from flying in a combat squadron. While her husband was able to join a squadron, her choices were limited, involving providing electronic warfare training to Navy ships and aircraft.

She later became 1 of the 1st women to fly what was then the Navy’s newest fighter, the F/A-18 Hornet, but again in a support role. “Women were new to the Hornet community, and already there were signs of growing pains.”

She served in the Navy for 10 years, reaching the rank of Navy lieutenant commander. She left the Navy in 1993, and now lives in the San Antonio area with her husband. She has 2 children (a teenage son and a daughter in her early 20s).

Foster, her friend from college, told the Kansas City Star that Shults knew she “had to work harder than everyone else. She did it for herself and all women fighting for a chance.” Her approach to parenting, described in the “Military Fly Moms” book, reflected a similar sentiment.

“We endeavor to teach our children to be leaders, not lemmings,” she wrote. “This is especially important when it comes to making the right choice while the crowd is pulling in the other direction.”

Gary Shults, her brother-in-law, described her to the "AP" as a “formidable woman, as sharp as a tack.” “My brother says she’s the best pilot he knows,” Gary Shults said. “She’s a very caring, giving person who takes care of lots of people.”

Whatever was going through her mind as she completed her landing, Tammie Jo Shults even made time to tell the control tower: “Thank you, thanks guys, for the help.”

News Item A-2: "NTSB: Investigators Find Metal Fatigue in Southwest Airlines 737 Engine Failure" by "Aviation Week" Bill Carey (, April 18, 2018.

USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators found evidence of metal fatigue in the left engine of the (SWA) Boeing 737-700 that made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport on April 17 after the pilots (FC) initially reported an engine fire, then clarified that there was no fire but that engine parts were missing.

At a 9 pm briefing at the airport the day of the incident, (NTSB) Chairman Robert Sumwalt said investigators immediately focused on a missing fan blade in the damaged (CFM56-7B) turbofan engine. The number 13 fan blade, 1 of 24 fan blades that draw air into the engine, was broken at the point where it attached to the hub. “Our preliminary examination of this was that there is evidence of metal fatigue where the blade separated,” he told reporters.

The engine cowling was found in Bernville, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles NW of the airport.

Sumwalt said the (NTSB) wants to determine if the affected engine part is subject to a pending (FAA) airworthiness directive (AD) for certain (CFM56-7B) engines that would require ultrasonic inspections of certain fan blades. The (FAA) proposed the (AD) after a (SWA) 737 experienced a fan blade failure while flying from New Orleans to Orlando in August 2016. The flight crew landed the aircraft safely at Pensacola International Airport.

In June 2017, engine manufacturer (CFM) International issued a revised service bulletin that recommended one-time ultrasonic inspection of high-time fan blades “as soon as possible” on (CFM56-7B) engines.

(SWA) (CEO) Gary Kelly informed Sumwalt that (SWA) will immediately begin enhanced inspection procedures involving ultrasonic inspection on its entire fleet. (SWA) said it will accelerate its existing engine inspection program relating to (CFM56) engines “out of an abundance of caution,” a process it expects to complete in 30 days.

(CFM), the joint venture of (GE) Aviation and France’s Safran Aircraft Engines, said the (CFM56) engine type entered service in 1997. The (FAA) issued a certificate of registration to the incident aircraft in 2000.

During the briefing, Sumwalt provided a timeline of the emergency landing. The flight departed La Guardia Airport at 10:43 am About 20 minutes after takeoff, as the airplane was passing through 32,500 feet, multiple aural alerts and warnings sounded on the flight deck. The 2 pilots donned oxygen masks and reported to air traffic control that they had a Number 1 engine fire, were operating on a single engine and were initiating an emergency descent.

“Because they were concerned with potential airplane controlability issues, they elected to land the airplane with flaps 5 instead of the normal flap setting for a Boeing 737, which would be either flaps 30 or flaps 40,” Sumwalt said. “Once they were on final approach, they clarified to the tower that there was no engine fire, but they were operating single engine and they reported parts of the engine were missing.”

Asked about the significance of the lower flap setting, Sumwalt said: “That would mean that they were going to have a faster approach speed by a good bit, and they did that because of concerns about controlability.”

Sumwalt said the flight crew (FC) consisted of a female captain and a male first officer. Media reports identified the captain as Tammie Jo Shults, who was described by friends as 1 of the 1st women to fly the US Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet fighter.

News Item A-3: "INCDT: One Fatality After Southwest 737 Mid-air Engine Failure" by "Aviation Week" Bill Carey, (, April 17, 2018.

A Southwest Airlines (SWA) Boeing 737-700 made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport on April 17 after an apparent engine failure that caused 1 fatality.

(SWA) flight 1380 was en route from New York La Guardia Airport to Dallas Love Field when passengers heard an explosion involving the left engine, which blew out a window and caused the cabin to depressurize, according to media reports. The flight crew (FC) diverted the 737 to Philadelphia.

The pilots (FC) including Captain Tammie Jo Shults guided the plane carrying 144 passengers and 5 crew to a smooth landing. The jet landed 20 minutes after the explosion.

Powered by twin (CFM56-7B) turbofans, the airplane had reached an altitude of 32,500 feet before descending; it landed at 11:23 am, according to tracking company FlightAware. The 737, registered as (N772SW), was carrying 143 passengers and 5 crew.

Following the landing, the (FAA) imposed a ground stop for airplanes at other airports waiting to depart for Philadelphia. At 1:45 pm, the Philadelphia airport reported the ground stop had been lifted.

The passenger fatality was the 1st on a USA airline since 2009 and (SWA)'s 1st onboard fatality. In December 2005, a (SWA) airplane slid off the runway at Chicago Midway International Airport, through a fence and crashed into a car, killing a child in the car.

“We are deeply saddened to confirm that there is 1 fatality resulting from this incident,” (SWA) said in a late afternoon statement. “The entire Southwest Airlines (SWA) family is devastated and extends its deepest, heartfelt sympathy to the customers, employees, family members and loved ones affected by this tragic event. We have activated our emergency response team and are deploying every resource to support those affected by this tragedy.”

The (NTSB) dispatched a go-team to investigate the scene. Briefly addressing reporters at Reagan Washington National Airport prior to departing for Philadelphia, Chairman Robert Sumwalt described the incident as “an apparent in-flight engine failure,” but declined to use the term uncontained engine failure.

“I don’t want to sound bureaucratic, but ‘uncontained engine failure’ connotates a very specific thing,” Sumwalt said. “The engine is designed not to have an uncontained engine failure. There are protection rings around the engine to keep shrapnel from coming out. Even though we believe that there were parts coming out of this engine, it may not have been in that section of the engine that technically would qualify this as an uncontained engine failure.”

Manufactured by (CFM) International, the joint venture of (GE) Aviation and France’s Safran Aircraft Engines, the (CFM56) engine type entered service in 1997 and has accumulated >350 million flight hours.

“The (NTSB) confirmed that there was 1 fatality. The (CFM) team worldwide expresses its deepest condolences to the family of that victim,” (CFM) spokesperson Jamie Jewell said. “We have sent a team of technical representatives to the site to support the (NTSB) and the investigation, along with supporting (swa).”

In August 2016, a (SWA) 737 en route from New Orleans to Orlando experienced an uncontained engine failure of the left (CFM56) engine after climbing to 31,000 feet. The flight crew (FC) landed the airplane safely at Pensacola International Airport.

* "Southwest’s ‘LUV’ Heart Beats Through Tragedy" by Karen Walker ( in (ATW) Editor's Blog, April 18, 2018.

It’s not something that any airline wants to be in a position to “get right,” but what Gary Kelly and his team at Southwest Airlines (SWA) have demonstrated is the textbook way to respond to a disaster.

Immediately it became clear that something had gone tragically wrong with one of its flights, (SWA)’s emergency response team was at work; with its people, with responders at Philadelphia Airport, where flight 1380 made an emergency landing, getting assistance to those affected, and communicating to the wider public its shock, condolences and what information it had.

USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators are on the scene to establish what happened and why.

For the 144 passengers and 5 crew, it was an awful ordeal. The left engine of the Boeing 737-700 exploded, hurling shrapnel through a window, which broke open. A female passenger was half sucked out of the plane and other passengers battled to keep her inside; she later died. Depressurization meant everyone was wearing oxygen masks and the remaining flight must have been terrifying, even though it was cooly and expertly flown to a safe landing.

But if airlines (or any service company) want a real-world guide on to how to respond in a crisis, they should look at how (SWA) handled this incident. The messaging was quick and easily accessible, distributed on social media, in press statements, at a press conference, and via the posting of a video by (CEO) Kelly.

In that video, Kelly looks shocked, calls it a “sad” and “tragic” day; he expressed his deep condolences to the victim’s family and sympathy to all those affected. He said they are (SWA)’s top priority and pledged every assistance to them. He made clear that it was an engine failure and that (SWA) would give the (NTSB) investigation its full support. He thanked the crew and those at Philadelphia Airport for their actions. And he promised more information as it became available.

With impressive speed, the company offered a "from the top" message of heartfelt condolences, assistance to those directly affected; transparency, gratitude to those who helped, and a promise to find out what went wrong.

No airline (CEO) wants to be in the position Kelly was in this week. But all airlines should have crisis communications plans. And while it will be no comfort to (SWA)’s People, they should be commended for their preparation and professionalism in a crisis.

"‘Nerves of Steel’: She Calmly Landed the Southwest Airlines Flight and Broke Barriers as a Fighter Pilot" by Samantha Schmidt, "The Washington Post," April 17, 2018.

In the midst of the chaos, Southwest Airlines (SWA) pilot Captain Tammie Jo Shults successfully completed an emergency landing of the Boeing 737 in Philadelphia, saving the lives of 148 people and averting a far worse catastrophe.

The Captain’s voice was calm yet focused, as her plane descended with 149 people on board. “Southwest 1380, we’re single engine,” Captain Tammie Jo Shults, a former fighter pilot with the US Navy, said. “We have part of the airplane missing so we’re going to need to slow down a bit.” She asked for medical personnel to meet her airplane on the runway. “We’ve got injured passengers.”

“Injured passengers, okay and is your airplane physically on fire?” asked a male voice on the other end, according to an air traffic recording. “No, it’s not on fire, but part of it’s missing,” Shults said, pausing for a moment. “They said there’s a hole, and uh, someone went out.”

The engine on Shults’ plane had, in fact, exploded, spraying shrapnel into the airplane, causing a window to be blown out and leaving one passenger dead and 7 others injured. Frightened passengers on board the Dallas-bound flight braced for impact as oxygen masks muffled their screams.

In the midst of the chaos, Shults successfully completed an emergency landing at the Philadelphia International Airport, saving the lives of 148 people and averting a far worse catastrophe.

“She has nerves of steel,” one passenger, Alfred Tumlinson, told the Associated Press. “That lady, I applaud her. I’m going to send her a Christmas card (I’m going to tell you that) with a gift certificate for getting me on the ground. She was awesome.”

Another passenger, Diana McBride Self, thanked Shults on Facebook for her “guidance and bravery in a traumatic situation.” She added that Shults “came back to speak to each of us personally.” “This is a true American Hero,” she wrote. Others on social media agreed, even comparing Shults with Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who glided his US Airways plane to safety in New York’s Hudson River in 2009.

It was also no surprise to her that Tammie Jo Shults was the pilot credited with the skillful landing. Shults’ mother-in-law and friends described her as a pioneer in the aviation field, a woman who broke barriers to pursue her goals.

She was among the 1st female fighter pilots for the US Navy, according to her alma mater, MidAmerica Nazarene University, from which she graduated in 1983. Cindy Foster, who went to college with her, told the "Kansas City Star" that Shults was also among the 1st women to fly an F/A-18 Hornet for the Navy. “She said she wasn’t going to let anyone tell her she couldn’t,” Foster said.

Shults’s persistence in becoming a pilot goes back to her upbringing on a New Mexico ranch, near Holloman Air Force Base, Shults wrote in the book “Military Fly Moms,” by Linda Maloney.

“Some people grow up around aviation. I grew up under it,” she wrote. Watching the daily air show, she knew she “just had to fly” She recalled attending a lecture on aviation during her senior year of high school, in 1979. A retired colonel started the class by asking Shults, the only girl in attendance, “if I was lost.”

“I mustered up the courage to assure him I was not and that I was interested in flying,” she wrote. “He allowed me to stay but assured me there were no professional women pilots.”

When she met a woman in college who had received her Air Force wings, she wrote, “I set to work trying to break into the club.” But Shults, whose maiden name is Bonnell, wrote that the Air Force “wasn’t interested” in talking to her. The Navy let her apply for aviation officer candidate school, “but there did not seem to be a demand for women pilots.”

“Finally,” she wrote, a year after taking the Navy aviation exam, she found a recruiter who would process her application. After aviation officer candidate school in Pensacola, Florida, she was assigned to a training squadron at Naval Air Station Chase Field in Beeville, Texas, as an instructor pilot teaching student aviators how to fly the Navy T-2 trainer. She later left to fly the A-7 Corsair in Lemoore, California.

By then, she met her “knight in shining airplane,” a fellow pilot who would become her husband, Dean Shults. (He also now flies for (SWA)).

Because of the combat exclusion law, Tammie Jo Shults was prohibited from flying in a combat squadron. While her husband was able to join a squadron, her choices were limited, involving providing electronic warfare training to Navy ships and aircraft.

She later became 1 of the 1st women to fly what was then the Navy’s newest fighter, the F/A-18 Hornet, but again in a support role. “Women were new to the Hornet community, and already there were signs of growing pains.”

She served in the Navy for 10 years, reaching the rank of Navy lieutenant commander. She left the Navy in 1993, and now lives in the San Antonio area with her husband. She has 2 children (a teenage son and a daughter in her early 20s).

Foster, her friend from college, told the Kansas City Star that Shults knew she “had to work harder than everyone else. She did it for herself and all women fighting for a chance.” Her approach to parenting, described in the “Military Fly Moms” book, reflected a similar sentiment.

“We endeavor to teach our children to be leaders, not lemmings,” she wrote. “This is especially important when it comes to making the right choice while the crowd is pulling in the other direction.”

Gary Shults, her brother-in-law, described her to the "AP" as a “formidable woman, as sharp as a tack.” “My brother says she’s the best pilot he knows,” Gary Shults said. “She’s a very caring, giving person who takes care of lots of people.”

Whatever was going through her mind as she completed her landing, Tammie Jo Shults even made time to tell the control tower: “Thank you, thanks guys, for the help.”

News Item A-4: "(FAA), (EASA) Issue Emergency Directives for (CFM56-7B) Inspections" by "Aviation Week" Bill Carey ( and Sean Broderick, (, April 20, 2018.

The (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) late April 20 issued emergency airworthiness directives (AD) calling for inspections of fan blades on (CFM56-7B) engines that power Boeing 737NGs.

The emergency (AD)s come 3 days after a (CFM56-7B)-powered Southwest Airlines (SWA) 737-700 carrying 144 passengers and 5 crew made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport after experiencing an apparent left-engine explosion. One passenger died in the incident.

The directives follow a service bulletin (SB) engine manufacturer (CFM) International also issued April 20, recommending that fleet operators perform ultrasonic fan-blade inspections “within the next 20 days” on high-time (CFM56-7B) turbofans. The (SB) recommends inspections at different thresholds for all blades, with the highest-time blades (those with 30,000 or more cycles) needing inspections immediately. (CFM) also recommends repetitive inspections.

(EASA)’s (AD) adopts the (SB), while the (FAA) (AD) only mandates one-time inspections on the highest time blades. The (FAA) plans to follow up with another (AD) that would cover the rest of the blade population and possibly require repetitive checks.

The (FAA)’s (AD) describes its requirement as “a one-time ultrasonic inspection (USI) of all 24 fan blade dovetail concave and convex sides to detect cracking” within 20 days.

(EASA)’s directive supersedes an (AD) the (FAA) released in March, which became effective on April 2 and was in response to an August 2016 (SWA) 737-700 uncontained engine failure. “Since the AD was issued, a further failure of a fan blade of a (CFM56-7B) engine has been reported,” (EASA) said.

The USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) initially found that 1 of the 24 titanium alloy fan blades in the engine in the April 17 (SWA) incident had separated from the fan hub, where there was evidence of fatigue cracking. The safety board has said it is too early to say if the 2016 engine failure and the latest incident are directly related.

(CFM), the (GE) Aviation/Safran Aircraft Engines joint venture, said there are roughly 14,000 (CFM56-7B) engines in service. The fan-blade inspections recommended within 20 days would be for engines with >30,000 cycles since delivered new (each cycle consisting of an engine start, takeoff and landing, and full shut down). That affects about 681 engines world wide, of which 150 have already been inspected, (CFM) said. Some 352 engines would be affected in the USA, the (FAA) said. (CFM) said it issued the recommendation in “close collaboration” with the (FAA), the (EASA), Boeing (TBC) and (CFM56-7B) operators. (CFM) recommends inspections “by the end of August” for fan blades with 20,000 cycles, and inspections of all other fan blades when they reach 20,000 cycles. After the 1st inspection, the manufacturer recommends operators repeat the inspection every 3,000 cycles, which represents about 2 years in airline service. Inspections can be conducted on-wing with an ultrasonic probe along the surface of the fan blade and take about 4 hours per engine, (CFM) said.

“About 60 customers world wide operate engines within the cyclic thresholds of the new service bulletin,” (CFM) stated. “(CFM) partners (GE) and Safran Aircraft Engines have about 500 technicians (MT) directly involved to support customers and minimize operational disruption.”

News Item A-5: Southwest Airlines (SWA)’s near-term international focus will be to add more USA gateways, Executive VP & Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Watterson told an audience at the International Aviation Club in Washington DC on April 4th. (SWA) will operate 65 international routes from 23 USA gateways by July 2018, up from just 4 USA airports from which it operated international flights when it started flying beyond the USA in 2014. (SWA) flies to 15 international destinations in 10 countries.

News Item A-6: A USA court ruling has determined the (FAA) is not obligated to force an aerospace manufacturer to supply maintenance instructions to a repair station, potentially kicking off a new round of debates between manufacturers and repair stations over so-called instructions for continued airworthiness (ICA).

The issue pits Piedmont Propulsion Systems against (UTC) Aerospace Systems (UTAS). North Carolina-based Piedmont repairs Hamilton Sundstrand 568F propellers found on several regional aircraft models. Piedmont has long sought (ICA), or maintenance manuals, for a specific 568F procedure, court filings show. In 2014, after "several years" of trying, Piedmont went to the (FAA).

In November 2016, the (FAA) determined that Piedmont was entitled to the (ICA) (covering compression-wrap removal and replacement) and the (FAA) said it would "pursue distribution" of the manuals with (UTAS). Hamilton Sundstrand is now part of (UTAS).

Over the following year, Piedmont appealed to both (UTAS) and the (FAA) to get the manuals. It wrote several letters to the (FAA) and met with (UTAS) representatives, but made no progress, it wrote in a court filing. In late 2017, it turned to the courts, seeking to force the (FAA)'s hand.

"Over one year after the (FAA) issued its final order, Piedmont still has not received the instructions for continued airworthiness at issue," Piedmont's filing said, "and there is no indication from the (FAA) or (UTAS) that it will ever receive the materials."

Piedmont's latest appeal was denied by a Washington DC Court of Appeals, which cited case law saying a federal agency can decide when and how to enforce its own regulations.

While Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM)s have long sought to fix their own products, increasing (OEM) interest in capturing more of its aftermarket means the (ICA) debate could once again intensify. If it does, the Piedmont case could serve as a reality check for independent shops looking for help from the (FAA) on clear-cut (ICA) violations.

News Item A-7: "USA House (FAA) Proposal to Focus on Funding, not (ATC) Reform" by Sean Broderick (, April 13, 2018.

House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee leadership introduced a 5-year (FAA) re-authorization bill April 13 (a bipartisan proposal that leaves efforts to reform the air traffic control system behind, focusing instead on stabilizing the agency with consistent funding).

The bill includes proposed funding for the (FAA)’s Operations account that ranges from $10.4 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2019 to $11.3 billion in (FY) 2023. Funding for Facilities & Equipment (F&E) would be just <$3 billion in 2019 and top out at $3.3 billion in 2023. Comparable figures from the administration's (FY) 2019 budget request are $9.9 billion and $2.8 billion, respectively.

The legislation includes $3.35 billion annually in Airport Improvement Program grant funding, but does not raise the $4.50-per-segment passenger facility charge.

The bill also calls on the (FAA) to put together a task force on certification reform. The group, which would include a cross-section of stakeholders, would develop recommendations for how the (FAA) can improve its certification and oversight and provide input on current initiatives.

The bill was introduced by Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (Republican-Pennsylvania) and has the backing of leaders from the full committee and its 6 subcommittees.

“This bill provides many important reforms that will help USA manufacturers and job creators lead in a very competitive global marketplace,” Shuster said. “This legislation ensures long-term investment and stability in aviation infrastructure for America’s large, small, and rural communities, and it addresses issues to help maintain the safety of our system.”

News Item A-8: "USA Ultra-(LCC) Allegiant Strongly Denies ‘Unsafe’ Allegations" by (ATW) Sean Broderick (, April 16, 2018.

USA ultra-(LCC) Allegiant Air (WJE) is pushing back hard against new allegations that it runs an unsafe airline, pointing to changes aimed at improving its operations as evidence.

“I am outraged and astounded by the irresponsible, grossly misleading story aired by (CBS) 60 Minutes,” (WJE) VP Operations Eric Gust said. “The story is outdated, bears no resemblance to the (WJE) I know, and shows a real troubling misunderstanding of the (FAA)’s rigorous oversight of (WJE) and all USA airlines.”

The 60 Minutes televised piece, released April 15, built on stories published in late 2016 by the "Tampa Bay Times" newspaper in Florida. In them, (WJE)’s operational performance is questioned, backed by evidence (citing (FAA) service difficulty reports and other documents) of an unusually high number of in-service incidents and maintenance problems.

By then, however, both the airline and the (FAA) were moving to address issues with (WJE)’s operations. The (FAA) in 2015 “heightened [its] oversight of (WJE) while it was experiencing pilot (FC) labor issues,” the (FAA) explained in a letter provided to (CBS). (WJE) and its pilots (FC), represented by the Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224, agreed to a contract in July 2016. The agreement included “participation in critical (FAA) safety programs” (something the pilots (FC) prioritized during talks).

In early 2016, the (FAA) opted to conduct (WJE)'s next Certificate Holder Evaluation Process (CHEP) immediately, instead of waiting until its scheduled 2018 date. A (CHEP), done every 5 years on airlines and repair stations in addition to routine audits, is a top-to-bottom review on an operator’s system to ensure it is complying with federal regulations, and identifies any risk areas.

Among the notable in-service incidents leading up to the (FAA)’s (CHEP) decision: an aborted takeoff on August 17, 2015 involving an MD-83 at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport. (WJE) maintenance personnel (MT) discovered a missing cotter pin on an elevator power boost cylinder, a key flight control component. The missing pin allowed a nut to work free, which limited the left elevator’s travel and caused the airplane’s nose to lift off un-commanded during the takeoff roll.

On discovering the missing pin, (WJE) self-disclosed a possible regulatory violation, and the (FAA) opened an investigation. The (FAA)’s probe determined that the pin was not installed during a May 2015 overhaul by (AAR) Corporation. The (FAA) cited (AAR) for failing to comply with (WJE)’s Maintenance Program and its own Quality Control Manual. (WJE) contributed to the incident by not meeting its regulatory requirement of supervising all work done on its behalf.

The (FAA)’s 11-week (CHEP) evaluation, completed in June 2016, found a number of “procedural issues” and “minor discrepancies” in (WJE)’s operation, “but did not find any systemic or regulator problems,” the (FAA) said. (WJE) “addressed” the issues, the (FAA) said, characterizing them as “not uncommon to discover” during airline audits.

The (FAA) data show that (WJE)’s rate of reported events per 1,000 departures for the 6 months ended March 31 was less than half of the reported rate in fiscal 2015. Events include diversions, emergency landings, and passenger disturbances.

Among the allegations in the 60 Minutes and Tampa Bay Times reports: (WJE)’s front-line staff is discouraged from reporting incidents or, in extreme cases, taking action (such as diverting a flight) that might be a prudent safety decision that costs the airline money. A statement distributed by the airline and attributed to (WJE) pilot (FC) Steven Allen, elected by his colleagues to serve as Chairman of their executive council in 2017, refutes this.

“Throughout that year, I worked closely with the company’s operations and labor relations leadership,” Allen said. “If I was ever made aware of any issues, I always felt comfortable bringing them forth for open discussion with the group, even if it was something we might disagree on. I can confidently say that our culture of safety continued to move in a positive direction, and that remains true today.”

News Item A-9: Former (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta has joined Delta Air Lines (DAL)’s board of directors. The long-time transportation executive left the (FAA) in January after serving a 5-year term as its top official. Huerta also was Deputy Administrator in 2010 and 2011 and then took the role of Acting Administrator prior to being appointed.

His experience includes serving as the Executive Director at the Port of San Francisco and Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Ports, International Trade and Commerce, as well as holding several senior positions within the USA Department of Transportation. He also was Managing Director of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

“Michael’s deep aviation and broader transportation industry experience will be a great asset to Delta (DAL),” said Frank Blake, (DAL)’s non-executive Chairman of the board.

Huerta was recently appointed as senior advisor to Macquarie Capital.

News Item A-10: "Proposed FAA Reauthorization Amendment Calls for Engine Safety Review" by Bill Carey (ATW) Plus, April 24, 2018.

USA House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (Republican - Pennsylvania) has submitted an amendment to proposed (FAA) re-authorization legislation that would require a “call to action” review of airline engine safety in the wake of the Southwest Airlines (SWA) flight 1380 engine failure. The amendment to HR 4, the (FAA) Re-authorization Act of 2018, calls on the (FAA) to initiate the review process within 90 days of the bill’s enactment.

News Item A-11: "USA House Passes (FAA) Re-authorization Bill to 2023"
by Aaron Karp (ATW) Plus, April 27, 2018.

The USA Congress took a major step toward bringing an end >3 years of contentious debate over (FAA) re-authorization with the House voting overwhelmingly to pass legislation that would authorize the (FAA) through September 30, 2023. The 393 to 13 House vote, and strong endorsements for the House (FAA) re-authorization bill from key leaders in both parties, makes passage in the Senate of a similar bill (and ultimately passage of a long-term (FAA) re-authorization bill.

May 2018: News Item A-1: The (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), acting on engine manufacturer (CFM) International's recommendations, have mandated a tighter timeline for initial inspections of higher-time (CFM56-7B) fan blades.

In airworthiness directives (ADs) published May 17, each regulator changed the deadline for inspecting blades with between 20,000 and 30,000 cycles since new to June 30. The previous deadline, established by (AD)s issued in April, was August 31.

“It has been determined that the initial inspection for certain fan blades must be accomplished within a reduced compliance time,” (EASA) explained, referencing a (CFM) service bulletin issued May 9.

The deadline for highest-time blades (those with at least 30,000 cycles) was earlier this month, while the date for inspections on blades with fewer than <20,000 cycles remains September 7. Follow-up checks must be done every 3,000 cycles, the equivalent of every 18 to 24 months.

The 1st round of inspections, on the highest-time blades, does not appear to have uncovered a fleetwide issue. Some carriers have reported removing and replacing blades, with the removed blades being sent to (GE) Aviation for more detailed analysis. (GE) and Safran are partners in (CFM).

Cracked fan blades have been identified as the root causes of 2 (CFM56-7B) engine failures on Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (SWA) Boeing 737-700s (1 in August 2016 and 1 last month). Both have been classified by the USA National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) as accidents; the 2nd resulted in a passenger fatality.

In each instance, a No 1 engine failure was linked to a cracked fan blade, with fatigue cracking within the dovetailed-shaped blade root, where the blade attached to the hub, identified as the likely cause. The (NTSB) continues to investigate both accidents.

News Item A-2: (FAA) acting Administrator Dan Elwell called for the (FAA) to embrace innovation and emerging technology by forming partnerships with industry and entrepreneurial organizations during a speech at the International Aviation Club (IAC) of Washington DC. “The era of red tape strangling good ideas is over,” Elwell said. “We’re building up the table with not just traditional aviation stakeholders, but the newest Silicon Valley startups.

June 2018: (FAA) acting Administrator Dan Elwell has called on the UK and world governments to accelerate the pace of bilateral aviation negotiations ahead of Brexit, when the UK leaves the European Union (EU), in March 2019.

“Brexit and its March 2019 deadline is obviously on all of our minds,” Elwell said during a June 19 speech at the (EASA) - (FAA) Aviation Safety Conference in Washington DC. “As the clock runs down, removing uncertainty about the UK and its aviation agreements with the rest of the world only becomes more important.”

“Brexit is going to affect passengers, businesses and the entire global supply chain, but early planning can help mitigate those impacts,” he added. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to reach a decision on the aviation components of Brexit as soon as possible.”

Elwell also hailed a recent amendment to the (USA - (EU) Safety Agreement that makes it easier for both sides to validate and import each other’s aircraft and aviation parts. The amended agreement, which sets a framework toward lowering validation fees for manufacturers, will help get products to market faster by “reducing the involvement of validating authorities on both sides of the Atlantic.”

“Thanks to the relationship we’ve built over the years, we have a high degree of confidence in our respective certification systems,” Elwell said. “This agreement opens up a way for the USA and the (EU) to collaborate on flight simulation training devices, as well as on pilot (FC) licensing and training.”

Elwell also emphasized a host of safety innovations underway at the (FAA), including data communications technology, performance-based navigation, and the rollout of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) (a system that uses (GPS) satellites to give air traffic controllers a more accurate picture of where an airplane is at a given moment).

The (FAA) is currently about 18 months away from a deadline requiring all airplanes flying in controlled airspace to be equipped with (ADS-B). Approximately 25% of the USA airline fleet is already equipped with the technology. “We’re working closely with our international partners to make sure any airplanes that will be flying in USA airspace has equipment installed that complies with the mandate by January 1, 2020,” Elwell said.

August 2018: "Aviation Groups to USA Senate: Adopt Long-term (FAA) Re-authorization" by Ben Goldstein (, August 15, 2018.

A coalition of 30 organizations representing a cross-section of the USA aviation industry is appealing the leadership of the USA Senate to move expeditiously to consider legislation for a long-term re-authorization of the (FAA), before current authorization for the agency expires on September 30.

In its August 15 letter, the group said the numerous short-term extensions of the (FAA)’s authority since 2015 have “negatively impacted the (FAA)’s activities,” and that long-term legislation would allow all stakeholders in the aviation industry the “certainty to continue to build, invest, hire, innovate and grow.”

Airlines for America (A4A) President & (CEO) Nicholas Calio, referencing the letter, said: “Adopting a long-term re-authorization bill will provide stability for the (FAA) to uphold the highest levels of safety we have today, while providing the certainty that employers need to continue creating new jobs, investing in crucial infrastructure and new technology, and encouraging innovation that will move the industry forward.”

The House passed H.R. 4, the (FAA) Re-authorization Act, in late April on a 393 to 13 vote. The Senate is currently working through a host of amendments, although it’s still unclear when exactly the bill will see floor time. The 2 chambers will have to reconcile their versions of the bill in a conference committee, before sending it to USA President Donald Trump to sign by its September 30 deadline.

Groups that signed the letter addressed to Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky) and Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Democrat-New York) include (A4A), the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA), (IATA), the Cargo Airline Association (CAA), the National Air Carrier Association (NACA) and the USA Chamber of Commerce, among others.

September 2018: News Item A-1: "Cyberattack Risk Poses Biggest Threat to Airports, Aviation" by Ben Goldstein (, September 11, 2018.

A senior official from Tampa International Airport (TPA) told USA lawmakers the risk of cyberattack “without question represents the preeminent and persistent threat” to global aviation.

The comments came during a September 6 joint hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Cybersecurity and Transportation Security subcommittees, held to examine cyber threats to aviation.
“In today’s modern and technologically advanced airports, there are virtually no areas or functions that do not rely at some level on a digital network,” (TPA) Executive VP Information Technology (IT) and General Counsel Michael Stephens said. “The operational importance of these systems makes airports immensely appealing targets and potentially vulnerable to malicious cyber threats, such as criminal organizations and state sponsored actors.”

In his testimony, Stephens said USA airports have reached a point “where voluntary compliance is no longer adequate,” and asked lawmakers to consider mandating the adoption of “uniform minimum cyber security standards and frameworks.”

He also said the “human factor remains the most highly exploited vector” for breaching cyber defenses, and threat awareness and information security training programs for airport, airlines and aviation industry employees are “perhaps one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways of increasing airports’ and airlines’ cybersecurity readiness.”

Lawmakers also heard from Christopher Porter, Chief Intelligence Strategist at cybersecurity group FireEye, Inc, who testified that state-backed hackers are “routinely” targeting the USA aviation industry through cyberespionage to steal industrial secrets from manufacturers, researchers and operators of military and civilian aircraft.

Porter called cyberespionage the “most common cyber threat facing the aviation industry,” and said that hackers sponsored by China, Russia and more recently Iran have all “targeted the USA or its close allies for theft of aviation secrets.” All 3 countries also routinely target ticketing and traveler data, shipping schedules and even partner industries like railways or hotels as part of their counterintelligence efforts, Porter added.

However, Porter reminded lawmakers that, because cyber-espionage is routine, “it should not be viewed as destabilizing.” “When cyberespionage operators get a foothold on a system, they can often use that access for stealing information or to launch a disabling or destructive attack using the same technology,” Porter said. “But they rarely choose to do so, and in the USA, there are significant redundancies in place to ensure safety. A crashed (IT) system does not mean a crashed plane, and it’s important for the public to keep that in mind.”

News Item A-2: "The FAA Extends High-density Restrictions at New York LaGuardia, (JFK) Airports" by Bill Carey ( September 18, 2018.

The (FAA) has extended existing operating limitations at New York’s LaGuardia (LGA) and (JFK) airports until 2020. In dual order extensions published September 18 in the Federal Register, the (FAA) said it will continue restrictions dating to its 1968 high-density rule (HDR) that limited arrivals and departures at the 2 airports during peak demand periods to reduce congestion. With the phase-out of the (HDR) in 2007, the (FAA )ordered temporary limits at (LGA) in December 2006 and (JFK) in January 2008 that have been periodically extended—most recently in 2016 at both airports.

The metropolitan New York City airports figure prominently in the (FAA)’s Northeast Corridor initiative to reduce congestion and deconflict air traffic in the region between Boston and Washington DC, which accounts for nearly half of all delays in the USA national airspace system. The (FAA) plans to implement a new round of air traffic management improvements in the region from 2019 to 2021.

Both new order extensions are effective until October 24, 2020. They maintain current hourly limits on scheduled and unscheduled operations during the peak periods and require airlines to use their slot allocations at least 80% of the time, with certain exceptions. 71 slots per hour are available at (LGA) and 81 at (JFK).

In the case of (LGA), the (FAA) states: “The reasons for issuing the order have not changed appreciably since it was implemented. Runway capacity at (LGA) remains limited, while demand for access to (LGA) remains high.”

The (FAA) said on-time and other performance metrics recorded at (LGA) during the peak months of May to August improved in 2017 and 2018 relative to the same period in 2008. “However, the (FAA) has determined that the operational limitations imposed by this order remain necessary. Without the operational limitations imposed by this order, the (FAA) expects severe congestion-related delays due to the anticipated demand of new operations and the retiming of existing flights into more desirable hours.”

Similarly, performance metrics at (JFK) have improved relative to 2008, but “demand for access remains high and the average weekday hourly flights in the busiest hours are generally at limits under this order.”

The new orders provide procedures to allocate withdrawn, surrendered or unallocated slots, and allow for slot trades and leases. The (FAA) said several airlines have requested that it enact a simplified process for managing temporary slot transfers, which the (FAA) is considering for a future order.

October 2018: News Item A-1: "USA President Signs (FAA) Re-authorization Bill into Law" by Ben Goldstein (, October 8, 2018.

USA President Donald Trump on October 5 signed a bill into law to reauthorize the (FAA) until 2023, marking the 1st long-term re-authorization for the (FAA) since late 2015 and its longest since 1982.

News of the passage of (HR 302) was met with praise from aviation stakeholders, although groups including airports, airlines and pilots (FC) have registered complaints about certain items included in, and missing from, the new law. “With President Trump’s signature, the (FAA) Re-authorization Act will begin modernizing airport infrastructure, improving service for the flying public, enhancing transportation safety and security and boosting aviation industry innovation,” Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (Republican-South Dakota) said. “Because of this bill, our economy and passengers will benefit as airport construction projects will move forward, aviation manufacturing gets a boost, and passengers will gain new legal protections during the experience of air travel.”

The (FAA) lauding the bill’s passage, said the re-authorization bill “delivers a safer, more secure and efficient aviation system to the traveling public and helps fuel economic growth and competitiveness. Today’s signing of the 5-year bill authorizes the reliable, predictable funding the (FAA) needs to invest in these critical priorities.”

The 1,200 page law contains numerous provisions that will impact the operations of airlines, airports, manufacturers and passengers. The provision grabbing most headlines is a measure that paves the way for the Department of Transportation to regulate minimum seat sizes on all scheduled carriers operating in the USA. The law also orders the USA Government Accountability Office to study aircraft lavatory trends, including whether the push to reduce the number or size of lavatories is creating “passenger access issues.”

The reaction was more mixed from the airports, which are disappointed the law failed to increase either the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) or passenger-facility charge (PFC) cap (neither of which have increased in years). The (AIP) is set at about $3.3 billion annually, while the maximum (PFC) charge that airports can levy is $4.50 per flight segment.

Airline pilot (FC) groups welcomed the bill, and expressed relief that lawmakers excluded proposals to reduce minimum airline first-officer qualifications and to study the feasibility of single-pilot (FC) cargo operations. But they are disappointed the law left out a provision to ban so-called flag of convenience carriers, as well as a measure to close the so-called “cargo loophole” to ensure freight pilots get sufficient rest before they fly.

“Signing a long-term re-authorization bill into law provides stability for the (FAA) to uphold the highest levels of safety we have today, while providing certainty for the millions of passengers and countless businesses that rely on access to safe, affordable travel and shipping options every day,” Airlines for America (A4A) (CEO) Nicholas Calio said.

News Item A-2: "USA (DOT) to Create Aviation Consumer Advocate Position" by Ben Goldstein October 12, 2018.

A little-noticed provision in the 1,200-page bill to reauthorize the (FAA) will create an aviation consumer advocate within the Aviation Consumer Protection Division (ACPD) of the USA Department of Transportation (DOT).

The new position will be charged with assisting consumers in resolving carrier service complaints, reviewing the resolution by the (DOT) of such complaints and recommending actions the (FAA) can take to improve enforcement of aviation consumer protection rules.

The (DOT), for its part, has opposed the creation of the aviation consumer advocate, arguing that it will be redundant, given the work of the analysts at the (ACPD). That division publishes monthly Air Travel Consumer Reports and shares passenger complaints with airlines, although industry-watchers claim it has been underfunded in recent years.

In May, the (DOT) took the unusual step of writing a letter to Commerce Committee ranking member Bill Nelson (Democrat-Florida) to register opposition to several “unnecessary and counter-productive rulemaking mandates” in the Senate’s (FAA) re-authorization bill, including the provision creating the aviation consumer advocate position. In the letter, the (FFA) said the new position “would result in an increase in cost with no benefit.” The (FAA) added that “the analysts in the (DOT)’s (ACPD) already serve as consumer advocates. They speak with consumers every day to facilitate a resolution to their air travel service problems. The (DOT) also already submits an annual report to Congress on the total number of disability complaints that airlines receive.”

While Congress eventually ditched some of the consumer protections flagged by the (DOT) as problematic, it stuck with the language creating the aviation consumer advocate. That measure appeared in both chambers’ original re-authorization bills, as well as (HR 302), the final agreement struck between both chambers in September and quickly passed by Congress in early October.

The consumer advocate will update Congress each year through an annual report that includes the total number of passenger complaints, which will be further broken down to include carrier name, complaint category and enforcement outcome.

More specifically, the aviation consumer advocate will be asked to evaluate unfair and deceptive practices by carriers and ticket agents, terms and conditions agreed to by passengers and carriers (both US- and foreign-based), tarmac delays and consumer protections for air ambulance consumers, among other applicable practices.

Charles Leocha, President & Founder of consumer group Travelers United, called the provision “important” and said it will modify the (DOT)’s mission by requiring the (FAA) to prioritize the airline passenger experience.

“The (DOT) mission statement has totally eliminated passengers,” Leocha said. “This is going to force them to put passengers back in, because now Congress is telling them, ‘You are involved in taking care of airline passengers.’ I think that’s really going to make a big difference for the flying public.”


Click below for photos:

October 2018:

1 727-25C (JT8D-7 HK) (628-19854, /68, N40), EX-(ELA), WINGLETS.

1 737-275 (539-21639), EX-(ACN) 2002-11.

2 747-21SP (JT9D-7A) (325-21547, /78 N146UA), EX-(PAA)/(UAL) 2001-02 (331-21548, /78 N147UA) FOR DESTRUCTIVE TESTING.

1 DC-10-40 (46768), EX-(NWA) 2002-07, FOR DESTRUCTIVE TESTING.

1 GULFSTREAM IV (TAY 611-8) (1071, /88 N1 "SPIRIT OF AMERICA").

July 2009
Understanding MSG-3
By Charlotte Adams

Hearing the acronym (MSG) might make some think of the preservative in some take-out food. But in the maintenance world, (MSG-3) is the root of all inspection schedules in a process starting before an airplane enters service. The following describes this fascinating process and how manufacturers and operators work to achieve the end result.

The method that airplane manufacturers, operators and regulators use to develop the manufacturer’s initial maintenance schedule, as part of the work towards airplane certification, is beyond the ken of many in the hands-on maintenance world. It is often a multi-year process, involving the application of rigorous logic, the analysis of reams of data and the interaction of multiple administrative bodies. Many people, hearing the acronym (MSG), might think it’s a version of the food additive, monosodium glutamate.

All the more reason to know more about aviation’s Maintenance Steering Group-3, or MSG-3, process. It starts before an airplane enters service, when there is no in-service operational data, and continues through the life of the type. (MSG-3) practitioners are the Industry Steering Committee (ISC) working groups. Working group members, who are specialists in the various airplane systems, interact with members of the manufacturer’s design group and receive data from the manufacturer, such as mean time between failure (MTBF). But it is the working group members who do the detailed analysis and generate proposed scheduled maintenance tasks. The working group members (representatives of the manufacturer and operators) present their results to the (ISC), which approves it. Representatives of the regulators attend (ISC) meetings as advisers.

The final output of the (ISC) for a new airplanes is the Maintenance Review Board Report (MRBR), which outlines the recommended minimum initial maintenance requirements. This document is then approved by the (FAA), as the (MRB) Chairman (for a USA airplane). The (MSG-3) process provides for tasks, such as lubrication, visual inspections, operational or functional checks, restoration and discard. (Discard refers to removing life-limited parts and replacing them with new ones.)

Although there is no actual in-service operational data available when the (ISC) process begins for a new airplane, there is much historical data on the performance of similar components and systems used in earlier designs, as well as test data from the manufacturer and component vendors. "It’s the actual in-service reliability data of similar components and systems that drives the interval," according to Ray Smith, a Boeing Technical Principal and the co-Chairman of the 787 (ISC).

(MSG-3) stresses a top-down approach to analysis that starts at the highest manageable level and looks at the consequences of that failure, explains Dave Nakata, VP of EmpowerMX, an (MSG-3) consulting service. But safety is key. If (MSG-3) analysis shows that a certain functional failure would jeopardize operational safety, and couldn’t be rectified by any of the hierarchy of standard tasks within the specified logic, then redesign of the item in question would be mandatory. Application of (MSG-3) logic to the emerging 787-8 airplane, for example, has led to mandatory design changes in flight control and lightning/(HIRF) (High-Intensity Radiated Field) protection systems, Smith said.

(MSG-3) is the only game in town for commercial airplane manufacturers. According to Advisory Circular AC-121-22A, (FAA) policy states that the "latest (MSG) analysis procedures must be used for the development of (MRBR)s for all new or derivative [Part 121] airplanes." It is the "only methodology accepted by the airworthiness authorities," stated Jörg Coelius, Section Manager Maintenance Programs with Lufthansa Technik (DLH) (LTK). Although Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO)s are executors rather than decision makers in the (MSG-3) community, (LTK) is knowledgeable. It helped develop (MSG-3)-based maintenance programs for Southwest Airlines (SWA), Alaska Airlines (ASA) and Lufthansa (DLH).

The (FAA) stresses the safety aspects of (MSG-3). The methodology "helps improve safety by addressing hidden functional failures," officials said. "Maintenance-significant items are addressed at the system level instead of at the parts level." (MSG-3) also helps improve maintenance efficiency, the (FAA) noted, by eliminating redundant and ineffective tasks. There is usually a substantial cost reduction in hard time component removal and replacement.

The (FAA) also praised (MSG-3)’s thoroughness. The methodology focuses on airplane systems and the loss of system function or functions, (FAA) officials said. It considers hidden failures, +1 additional failure, in the decision logic, identifies 3 consequences of a loss of function (safety, operational, and economic), identifies 2 types of safety tasks, and identifies at least 9 types of scheduled maintenance tasks. (MSG-1) and (MSG-2), by contrast, focused on parts and part failure rates, considered only 1 failure in the decision logic and didn’t identify any tasks (it was process-oriented rather than task-oriented).

(MSG-3) has also been adopted by most major bizjet manufacturers, with the encouragement of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). Bombardier (BMB) was the 1st proponent, but Gulfstream, Embraer, Cessna and Dassault Falcon Jet, among others, have embraced the methodology. 1 can argue that the bizjet original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) were better off under the old approach, which stressed hard time and on-condition maintenance. They had a steady revenue stream based on predictable parts replacement intervals. But it wasn’t cost-effective for the operators, explained Len Beauchemin, Managing Director AeroTechna Solutions, an (MSG-3) consultancy and training company.


The (MSG-3) process for the 787-8 started in 2005 and the (FAA) approved the scheduled maintenance program in 2008. While 787-8 activities will continue through flight test and the life of the airplane, (ISC) work regarding the 787-9 was expected to get under way in October 2009.

The 787 (ISC) included 7 working groups: systems; electrical and avionics; lightning and (HIRF); powerplant; flight controls and hydraulics; structural; and zonal, said Lynne Thompson, Boeing’s Director Maintenance Engineering.

It’s often said that (MSG-3) is a task-oriented system, so analysis engineers go through a prescribed logic sequence, asking questions, depending on the category of the failure under consideration. A task is then selected to identify or rectify the failure.


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Michael Huerta competed his term as (FAA) Administrator. He joined the (FAA) in 2010 as Deputy Administrator and served as Acting Administrator before being confirmed by the Senate as Administrator in January 2013. He later has became a Senior Advisor to Macquarie Holdings (USA), Inc and also has taken Delta Air Lines (DAL)’s board of directors.

During his (FAA) tenure, Michael redefined the (FAA)'s regulatory relationship with the aviation industry to achieve greater levels of safety through increased collaboration and widespread sharing of data. He also led the (FAA)'s efforts to modernize the nation's air traffic control (ATC) system through the NextGen program, while preparing the way for the safe integration of commercial space operations and small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). He is also well known for eliminating the decades old ban on the use of portable electronic devices (PED)s aboard airplanes during takeoff and landing, making it possible to use many devices from gate to gate.

Before joining the (FAA), Michael was Executive VP & Group President, Transportation Solutions, of Affiliated Computer Services (ACS). Prior to that, he was a Managing Director for Transportation at the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic Winter Games of 2002. He also served in executive positions at the USA Department of Transportation, the Port of San Francisco and the New York City Department of Ports, International Trade & Commerce.


Michael's responsibility has been for helping to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the largest aerospace system in the world. He also has served as the Chief NextGen Officer being responsible for the development and implementation of (FAA)'s Next Generation Air Transportation System.




Long-time aviation executive Ali Bahrami became the (FAA)’s Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety on July 10, 2017. Previously, he was VP Civil Aviation at Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents the nation’s leading aerospace and defense manufacturers and suppliers.

As Associate Administrator, Ali has led the organization responsible for setting safety standards and overseeing all parts of the aviation industry (airlines, manufacturers, repair stations, pilots (FC), mechanics (MT), air traffic controllers, flight attendants (CA), and any person or product that operates in aviation. These programs have a direct impact on every facet of domestic and international civil aviation safety.











AIRPORTS (2007-01).



Marke became the Senior Advisor on (UAS) Integration, “a position established to focus on external outreach and education, inter-agency initiatives and an enterprise-level approach to (FAA) management of (UAS) integration efforts.” He previously served as Executive Director of the NextGen Institute, which provides professional services to the (UAS) Joint Program Development Office. He has also owned his own aviation consulting firm, and held numerous senior command and staff positions during a 33-year US Air Force career.

Earl leads the (FAA)’s efforts to safely and effectively integrate (UAS) into the nation’s airspace. During almost 5 years as Director of the (FAA) Small Airplane Directorate, Earl was responsible for 17 aircraft certification and manufacturing district offices in 21 states from Alaska to Florida. Before coming to the (FAA) in 2010, he had been VP Industry & Regulatory Affairs at the Experimental Aircraft Association since 1994.



Rolandos C Lazaris joined the (FAA) as an aviation safety Inspector at the Washington Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) in 2000, and by 2006, was appointed as the assistant Manager. In 2008, he was named Manager of the Charlotte (North Carolina) (FSDO) and in 2013, was named Manager of the Washington (FSDO).

Prior to his joining the (FAA), Rolandos held a variety of positions with air carriers and corporate and general aviation operations.

Currently, he is the Executive Officer of the Aircraft Maintenance Division in Flight Standards service in Washington DC.

A holder of an (FAA) certificate with an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) rating, Rolandos studied statistics at the Economic School of Piraeus, Greece and holds a degree in Specialized Aviation Technology from the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics.





Timothy W Shaver is the (FAA)’s Deputy Director for the Office of Safety Standards in Flight Standards Service. The Office of Safety Standards consists of 7 divisions responsible for policy and guidance regulations, aircraft evaluation, air transportation, aircraft maintenance, general aviation and commercial safety, safety analysis and promotion, international programs, flight technologies, and regulatory support. Under Tim’s leadership, the office’s activities directly support certificate oversight, surveillance, and the management decisions of our stakeholders.

Previously, Tim was the Manager of the Aircraft Maintenance Division. In 2009 he joined Flight Standards as the Manager of the Aircraft Maintenance Division’s Avionics Branch. Before joining Flight Standards, Tim was in the Aircraft Certification Service’s Avionics Systems Branch.

Prior to joining the (FAA), Tim spent 14 years at a part 121 air carrier working in various capacities, including avionics airworthiness manager, avionics engineer and radio and electrical mechanic (MT). Tim started his aviation career serving 8 years as a guidance and control technician in the US Air Force performing in-shop and on-aircraft troubleshooting, repair, inspection and maintenance.

When Tim isn’t spending his time working, he enjoys riding his motorcycle and fishing.








Previous USA President Barack Obama nominated Christopher Hart as Chairman of the USA National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Christopher, (NTSB)’s Vice Chairman, served as acting Chairman since former Chairperson, Deborah Hersman resigned from the board on April 25. Christopher oversaw the (NTSB)’s public hearing releasing the board’s investigative findings on the Asiana Airlines (AAR) Flight 214 777 crash. He has been a member of the board since August 2009 and was also a member from 1990 - 1993.

Christopher has previously served as the (FAA) Deputy Director Air Traffic Safety Oversight and as (FAA) Assistant Administrator System Safety. His term as an (NTSB) member runs to December 31, 2017.

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