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James E. Swickard

James E. Swickard
FAA Fiscal 2014 NextGen Spending Would Boost Programs 

The FAA'S $928 million in proposed fiscal 2014 NextGen Facilities and Equipment (F&E) spending includes 25 funded line items, 15 of which either gain funding or maintain the level of fiscal 2012, the agency's last full year of spending. Among fiscal 2014's potential big gainers compared to fiscal 2012: $65 million for En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) D position upgrade and system enhancements — up from $0; and $24 million each for the NextGen Weather Processor (NWP) and the Terminal Flight Data Manager (TFDM) programs, each up from $0 two years ago.

King Air Fleet Tops 60 Million Flight Hours 

Beechcraft's venerable King Air fleet has surpassed 60 million flight hours. More than 7,000 of the twin turboprops are operated in 127 countries worldwide, and are flown by all U.S. military branches. Beechcraft has seen a strengthening market for its turboprops, delivering 85 of its King Air 350is, 250s and C90GTxs in 2012.

FCC Renews Call to Ban 121.5 MHz ELTs 

NBAA submitted comments opposing the FCC's renewed call to prohibit the manufacture, sale, importation or use of 121.5 MHz ELTs. In a Jan. 30 proposed rule, the FCC again provided notice of its desire to prohibit the use of ELTs that transmit only on 121.5 MHz, favoring instead the use of ELTs that transmit on 406 MHz. NBAA advocated that operators be able to use installed 121.5 MHz ELTs until the end of the equipment's useful life and be able to make the decision to upgrade their aircraft's ELT when it makes sense for the operator to do so.

User Fee Opposition from Congress 

AOPA Online reports a record 223 members of Congress have stepped up to mount an attack against aviation user fees. The House members sent a letter to President Barack Obama April 5 stating that user fees are the “wrong approach,” the association said. The letter preceded the April 10 release of the Obama administration 2014 budget, which indeed contained a $100 per flight fee for many operations in controlled airspace. But with the level of opposition in congress, user fees are unlikely to be in a final budget.

ABACE 2013 

The Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (ABACE2013), which opened April 16 at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, was on pace to draw at least the same if not more attendees as last year's event as we go to press. ABACE returned in 2012 after a five-year hiatus, drawing 6,375 attendees, nearly triple the 2,200 who attended the previous event in 2007. The attendance, which exceeded expectations, underscored the rapid growth of business aviation in the region. This year, early registrations appear to be slightly ahead of last year's event.

Pilot's Texting In Flight Prompts NTSB Call For PED Use Limits 

The NTSB is seeking a ban on “non-operational” use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) for pilots while flying under FAR Part 135 and 91 Subpart K. The recommendation was one of nine the safety board issued following its investigation of the Aug. 26, 2011 crash of an Air Methods Eurocopter AS350 B2 helicopter that was on an emergency medical services (EMS) mission.

Second SAAB Remote Control Tower Passes Site Tests 

A Saab Remote Tower (r-TWR ) system under testing for Avinor, Norway's Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), at Værøy Heliport has passed its Site Acceptance Testing (SAT) milestone under SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) test and validation trials. The r-TWR system provides Avinor Aerodrome Flight Information Service (AFIS) officers at the Bodø Remote Tower Center (RTC) with high-resolution video of daily helicopter operations at Værøy. Saab's r-TWR system uses video, audio and other sensors to provide a continual, comprehensive view out of an air traffic tower.

FAA to End Contract Tower Funding June 15 

FAA said it will delay the closure of all 149 federal contract air traffic control towers until June 15. March 22, the FAA announced it would eliminate funding for these towers as part of the agency's required $637 million budget cuts under sequestration. A phased, four-week closure process was scheduled to begin April 7. Now, the FAA will close the facilities June 15 unless the airports decide to continue operations as a nonfederal contract tower.

Industry Groups Call Budget Proposals Attack On GA 

General aviation groups are expressing their frustration that the Obama administration's fiscal 2014 budget resurrects controversial proposals such as user fees and business aircraft depreciation extensions, saying that combined with planned contract tower reductions, it gives the appearance of “a widespread attack on general aviation.” “It is unfortunate, but not surprising, that the constant negative rhetoric about business aviation from the White House has once again translated into an onerous policy position from the administration,” says NBAA President and CEO Ed Bole

Special Issuance Medical Changes 

The FAA on April 9 streamlined the medical certification process for pilots with certain medical conditions that previously required special issuance authorizations. Now an AME can issue a normal duration medical certificate at the time of examination if the pilot provides adequate documentation showing good control of the condition. Details are posted on the AOPA website.

The Obama administration's fiscal 2014 budget plan halves its previously proposed cuts to federal grants for airport improvements by narrowing the reduction's impact primarily to large hub airports. But the administration also wants to impose a new cost on airports, and it still is counting on an unlikely increase in the airport passenger facility charge (PFC) to help offset the reduction in grant money.

House Bill to Preserve Tower Funds 

House lawmakers have drafted a bill to preserve funding slated to be cut from the contract air traffic control tower program. Reps. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) and Richard Hudson (R- N.C.) on April 10 introduced a bill, H.R.1432, the Air Traffic Control Tower Funding Restoration Act, designed to continue funding for the program. The bill would use unobligated funds within the current FAA budget to pay for the program.

Bell Helicopter Introduces Third-Generation V-280 Valor Tiltrotor at AAAA 

Bell Helicopter unveiled a third-generation tiltrotor, the V-280 Valor as a candidate for the Joint Multi-Role/Future Vertical Lift Technology Demonstrator (JMR/TD), at the 2013 Army Aviation Association of America Forum and Exposition in Fort Worth, Texas. At the show, Bell officials said that the new design may also be a strong candidate for commercial applications, although the version presented has a very “Army-centric” feature set.

Garmin Cockpit Upgrade for PC-12 

Pilatus Business Aircraft won an FAA STC to install the Garmin G600 avionics system in all pre-NG PC-12 aircraft produced between 1994 and 2008. Developed in concert with Garmin, the G600 New Perspective avionics system for the PC-12 pairs both the PFD and the MFD in a single 10-in.-wide flat-panel LCD. The installation incorporates the functionality of the PC-12's angle-of-attack information on the G600 PFD. The G600 New Perspective system includes the L3 Trilogy Electronic Standby Instrument System, making the PC-12's panel all-glass.

Texas to Fund Control Towers 

The Texas Department of Transportation said it plans to fund all 13 FAA contract air traffic control towers in the state if they are closed by the FAA as part of budget cuts from sequestration.

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