A summary review of Aviation and Airport Development related news and information that was made public during the past week. Trisha Ton-Nu also contributed to this post.
- FAA promises to change Palm Springs, California takeoff route to appease residents. In an effort to ease Palm Springs residents’ concerns over the increased number of planes flying over their homes, Federal Aviation Administration officials are looking to change Palm Springs International Airport’s takeoff pattern by October 22, 2009. The route was newly changed in January of this year, but officials are hoping to switch to a “hybrid” pattern next month. 09/09/09, Marcel Honore, The Desert Sun, http://bit.ly/NBzzd
- Quick action on FAA bill unlikely. The American Association of Airport Executives is urging the Federal Aviation Administration to pass the FAA reauthorization bill before September 30, 2009, when the current FAA authorization extension will expire. The Senate Commerce Committee approved the bill in July, but it has yet to go to the Senate floor. AAAE notes that Congress has passed a series of short-term extensions since the last full authorization bill expired almost two years ago, but stresses that the short-term extensions and “uncertain funding levels” are disruptive for airport executives trying to plan construction projects. 09/09/09, Adrian Schofield and James Ott, Aviation Daily, http://bit.ly/1IELDI.
- Pilots and Airlines urge new fatigue rules. A unified group of representatives from the airline industry and pilot unions have agreed that an overhaul of the rules combating pilot fatigue is necessary. The group urged Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt to replace old regulations with uniform limits on how many hours a pilot can fly with more flexible rules based on scientific studies about the causes of fatigue. 09/11/09, Andy Pasztor, The Wall Street Journal, http://bit.ly/HENld
- Department of Transportation aims to step up commuter-airline safety. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has stated that enhancing training and oversight of commuter-airline pilots is the Department of Transportation’s top aviation-safety priority. The February crash of a Colgan Air turboprop near Buffalo, New York revealed several training lapses and other safety shortcomings, prompting the DOT to “step up quickly” and show that those issues are its primary concern. Secretary LaHood also said there will be proposals to revise rules to combat fatigue, and that the FAA is collecting additional data on pilot-training programs and devising better ways to track pilots with training failures. 09/10/09, Andy Pasztor, The Wall Street Journal, http://bit.ly/d1UIu.
- FAA Administrator Babbitt questions professionalism of Colgan Air crew in Buffalo crash. Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt believes the Colgan Air crash near Buffalo, New York demonstrated “complete inattention to basic details.” Officials from Colgan Air acknowledged that the two pilots were not paying close attention to the aircraft’s instruments and failed to follow the airline’s procedures for handling an impeding stall in the final minutes of a flight. Administrator Babbitt contrasted the actions of the Buffalo crew with those of Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, pilot in the Hudson landing, and called for greater professionalism in the industry, encouraging experienced pilots to mentor newer ones, greater use of professional systems, and fostering an atmosphere that encourages employees to voice their concerns. 09/11/09, Carolyn Thompson, The Associated Press, http://bit.ly/3b6NdS.
- LAWA Director seeks to reverse decades of LAX underinvestment. Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Las Angeles World Airports, is hoping for the passage of legislation that could see an increase in the Passenger Facility Charge, which could help fund expansion of Los Angeles International airport. Ms. Lindsey stated that airport authorities themselves should have the right to raise the PFC independently, and is also advocating other methods to generate extra income for LAX, which she says has faced decades of underinvestment. The bill is currently under a consideration by a Senate committee. 09/14/09, Ben Vogel, Jane’s, http://bit.ly/2HCCFI
- Congress reluctant to fund ADS-B equipage. US Senate staff said that determining how to pay for the transition to a satellite-based NextGen ATC system is proving difficult; Congress is reluctant to provide funding to allow airlines to fit some aircraft with ADS-B equipment that would enable early NextGen demonstrations and testing. The House of Representatives has already passed an FAA reauthorization bill and the Senate is considering one, but neither legislative proposal details the mechanisms for funding the NextGen transition. A professional staffer on the Senate committee explained that the “philosophical issue” lies in whether Congress would be creating a legacy whereby the government is expected to equip every aircraft, if it were to provide money to equip some aircraft. 09/15/09, Aaron Karp, ATW Daily News, http://bit.ly/wzjQX
- The FAA is investigating a complaint that raises questions about the validity of Texas Southern University’s School of Aviation. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a complaint that alleges that ground and flight training instructors lack instructor certificates from the FAA. If the allegations are true, Texas Southern University’s School of Aviation would be in violation of federal guidelines, and commercial pilots who have already graduated from the program would question the validity of their degrees.A school spokesperson responds that the courses in question do not lead to FAA certifications and do not require FAA certified instructors or FAA approval, though an internal investigation is pending. 09/08/09, Houston News Video, http://bit.ly/YXi8q.