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FAA Approves First Commercial UAS Flights over Land

June 12, 2014 Comments off

FAA Approves First Commercial UAS Flights over Land
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration has given approval for energy corporation BP and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) manufacturer AeroVironment to fly an AeroVironment Puma AE for aerial surveys in Alaska—the first time the FAA has authorized a commercial UAS operation over land.

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Fact Sheet – The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Program

May 21, 2014 Comments off

Fact Sheet – The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Program
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

The FAA requires airport sponsors to maintain a safe operating environment which includes conducting Wildlife Hazard Assessments and preparing Wildlife Hazard Management Plans, when there has been a wildlife strike. The Wildlife Hazard Management Plan identifies the specific actions the airport will take to mitigate the risk of wildlife strikes on or near the airport. The FAA’s wildlife hazard management program has been in place for more than 50 years and focuses on mitigating wildlife hazards through habitat modification, harassment technology, and research.

Selection of the Next Generation of Air Traffic Control Specialists: Aptitude Requirements for the Air Traffic Control Tower Cab in 2018

February 12, 2014 Comments off

Selection of the Next Generation of Air Traffic Control Specialists: Aptitude Requirements for the Air Traffic Control Tower Cab in 2018 (PDF)
Source: Federal Aviation Administration (Office of Aerospace Medicine)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) faces two significant organizational challenges in the 21st century: (1) transformation of the current NAS into the Next Generation Air Transportation System (“NextGen”); and (2) recruitment, selection, and training the next generation of air traffic control specialists (ATCSs or air traffic controllers). What aptitudes should be assessed in the selection of future air traffic controllers? This report, the first of three, focuses on the aptitudes required in the air traffic control tower cab. First, the aptitude profile currently required at the time of hire into the ATCS occupation is described based on Nickels, Bobko, Blair, Sands, & Tartak (1995). Second, mid-term (2018) changes in the tower cab are described. Change drivers include increased traffic and the introduction of five decision support tools (DSTs): 1) Airport Configuration; 2) Departure Routing; 3) Runway Assignment; 4) Scheduling and Sequencing; and 5) Taxi Routing (with Conformance Monitoring). Third, the impact of these DSTs on tower cab operational activities, sub-activities, and tasks was assessed. Overall, the activities, sub-activities, and tasks of the controllers in the Ground Control and Local Control positions in the cab will not change with the introduction of these DSTs and associated displays. However, the way the work is performed will change at the keystroke or interface level. Fourth, the impact of the DSTs on aptitudes required of controllers is evaluated. The importance of the following aptitudes will increase in the mid-term: Scanning, across both auditory and visual sources, Perceptual Speed and Accuracy, Translating Information, Chunking, Interpreting Information, Sustained Attention, Recall from Interruption, Situational Awareness, Long-Term Memory, Problem Identification, Prioritization, Time-Sharing, Information Processing Flexibility, and Task Closure/Thoroughness. Two new aptitude requirements were identified: Dispositional Trust in Automation; and Computer-Human Interface (CHI) Navigation. Gaps in current aptitude testing are identified, and recommendations presented for test development and validation to close the gap.

FAA Selects Six Sites for Unmanned Aircraft Research

December 30, 2013 Comments off

FAA Selects Six Sites for Unmanned Aircraft Research
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

After a rigorous 10-month selection process involving 25 proposals from 24 states, the Federal Aviation Administration has chosen six unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and test site operators across the country.
In selecting the six test site operators, the FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk. In totality, these six test applications achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity and help the FAA meet its UAS research needs.

A brief description of the six test site operators and the research they will conduct into future UAS use are below:

University of Alaska. The University of Alaska proposal contained a diverse set of test site range locations in seven climatic zones as well as geographic diversity with test site range locations in Hawaii and Oregon. The research plan includes the development of a set of standards for unmanned aircraft categories, state monitoring and navigation. Alaska also plans to work on safety standards for UAS operations.

State of Nevada. Nevada’s project objectives concentrate on UAS standards and operations as well as operator standards and certification requirements. The applicant’s research will also include a concentrated look at how air traffic control procedures will evolve with the introduction of UAS into the civil environment and how these aircraft will be integrated with NextGen. Nevada’s selection contributes to geographic and climatic diversity.

New York’s Griffiss International Airport. Griffiss International plans to work on developing test and evaluation as well as verification and validation processes under FAA safety oversight. The applicant also plans to focus its research on sense and avoid capabilities for UAS and its sites will aid in researching the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested, northeast airspace.

North Dakota Department of Commerce. North Dakota plans to develop UAS airworthiness essential data and validate high reliability link technology. This applicant will also conduct human factors research. North Dakota’s application was the only one to offer a test range in the Temperate (continental) climate zone and included a variety of different airspace which will benefit multiple users.

Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. Texas A&M plans to develop system safety requirements for UAS vehicles and operations with a goal of protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing. The selection of Texas A&M contributes to geographic and climactic diversity.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). Virginia Tech plans to conduct UAS failure mode testing and identify and evaluate operational and technical risks areas. This proposal includes test site range locations in both Virginia and New Jersey.

Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) Roadmap

November 18, 2013 Comments off

Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) Roadmap (PDF)
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

A key activity of the FAA is to develop regulations, policy, procedures, guidance material, and training requirements to support safe and efficient UAS operations in the NAS, while coordinating with relevant departments and agencies to address related key policy areas of concern such as privacy and national security. Today, UAS are typically given access to airspace through the issuance of Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to public operators and special airworthiness certificates in the experimental category for civil applicants. Accommodating UAS operations by the use of COAs and special airworthiness certificates will transition to more routine integration processes when new or revised operating rules and procedures are in place and UAS are capable of complying with them. The FAA has a proven certification process in place for aircraft that includes establishing special conditions when new and unique technologies are involved. This process will be used to evaluate items unique to UAS. In those parts of the NAS that have demanding communications, navigation, and surveillance performance requirements, successful demonstration of UAS to meet these requirements will be necessary.

The process of developing regulations, policy, procedures, guidance material, and training requirements, is resource- intensive. This roadmap will illustrate the significant undertaking it is to build the basis for the NAS to transition from UAS accommodation to UAS integration.

Government and industry stakeholders must work collaboratively and apply the necessary resources to bring this transition to fruition while supporting evolving UAS operations in the NAS. The purpose of this roadmap is to outline, within a broad timeline, the tasks and considerations needed to enable UAS integration into the NAS for the planning purposes of the broader UAS community. The roadmap also aligns proposed Agency actions with the Congressional mandate in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Pub. L. 112-95. As this is the first publication of this annual document, the FAA will incorporate lessons learned and related findings in subsequent publications, which will include further refined goals, metrics, and target dates.

FAA Issues Final Rule on Pilot Training

November 6, 2013 Comments off

FAA Issues Final Rule on Pilot Training
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

As part of its ongoing efforts to enhance safety and put the best qualified and trained pilots in the flight decks of U.S. airplanes, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today issued a final rule that will significantly advance the way commercial air carrier pilots are trained.

In addition, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta is inviting the nation’s commercial aviation safety leaders to Washington, D.C. on November 21, to discuss additional voluntary steps that can be taken to further boost safety during airline operations, including pilot training.

The final rule stems in part from the tragic crash of Colgan Air 3407 in February 2009, and addresses a Congressional mandate in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 to ensure enhanced pilot training. Today’s rule is one of several rulemakings required by the Act, including the requirements to prevent pilot fatigue that were finalized in December 2011, and the increased qualification requirements for first officers who fly U.S. passenger and cargo planes that were issued in July 2013.

FAA — Portable Electronic Devices

November 1, 2013 Comments off

Portable Electronic Devices
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

The FAA has determined that airlines can safely expand passenger use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight, and is immediately providing the airlines with guidance. Expanded use will not happen overnight. The process will vary among airlines, but the agency expects airlines to allow passengers to safely use their devices in airplane mode, gate-to-gate, by the end of 2013.

New From the GAO

October 30, 2013 Comments off

New From the GAO

September 10, 2013 Comments off

New From the GAO
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Freedom of Information Act: Office of Government Information Services Has Begun Implementing Its Responsibilities, but Further Actions Are Needed. GAO-13-650, September 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-650
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657698.pdf

2. Community Colleges: New Federal Research Center May Enhance Current Understanding of Developmental Education. GAO-13-656, September 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-656
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657684.pdf

3. National Archives and Records Administration: Actions Needed to Ensure Facilities That Store Federal Records Meet Standards. GAO-13-668, September 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-668
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657678.pdf

4. FAA Facilities: Improved Condition Assessment Methods Could Better Inform Maintenance Decisions and Capital- Planning Efforts. GAO-13-757, September 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-757
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657675.pdf

Testimony

1. Education Research: Preliminary Observations on the Institute of Education Sciences’ Research and Evaluation Efforts, by George A. Scott, director, education, workforce, and income security issues, before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. GAO-13-852T, September 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-852T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657670.pdf

Statement for the Record

1. Federal Judgeships: The General Accuracy of District and Appellate Judgeship Case-Related Workload Measures, by David C. Maurer, director, homeland security and justice, before the Subcommittee on Bankruptcy and the Courts, Senate Committee on the Judiciary. GAO-13-862T, September 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-862T

FAA Boosts Aviation Safety with New Pilot Qualification Standards

July 10, 2013 Comments off

FAA Boosts Aviation Safety with New Pilot Qualification Standards
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

In a final rule to be published soon, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today that it is increasing the qualification requirements for first officers who fly for U.S. passenger and cargo airlines.

The rule requires first officers – also known as co-pilots – to hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, requiring 1,500 hours total time as a pilot. Previously, first officers were required to have only a commercial pilot certificate, which requires 250 hours of flight time.

The rule also requires first officers to have an aircraft type rating, which involves additional training and testing specific to the airplanes they fly.

The new regulations stem in part from the tragic crash of Colgan Air 3407 in February 2009, and address a Congressional mandate in the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 to ensure that both pilots and co-pilots receive the ATP certification. Today’s rule is one of several rulemakings required by the Act, including the new flight duty and rest requirements for pilots that were finalized in December 2011, and new training requirements expected this fall for air carrier training programs to ensure pilots know how to react properly in difficult operating environments.

New From the GAO

June 4, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Reports

Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Tax Refunds: IRS Is Exploring Verification Improvements, but Needs to Better Manage Risks. GAO-13-515, June 4.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-515
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/655021.pdf

2. FAA Oversight of Procedures and Technologies to Prevent and Mitigate the Effects of Dense, Continuous Smoke in the Cockpit. GAO-13-551R, June 4.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-551R

New From the GAO

May 9, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimonies

Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Bureau of the Public Debt: Areas for Improvement in Information Systems Controls. GAO-13-416R, May 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-416R

2. Federal Reserve Banks: Areas for Improvement in Information Systems Controls. GAO-13-419R, May 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-419R

3. Preliminary Results of Work on FAA Facility Conditions and Workplace Safety. GAO-13-509R, May 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-509R

Testimonies

1. Transportation Worker Identification Credential: Card Reader Pilot Results Are Unreliable; Security Benefits Should Be Reassessed, by Stephen M. Lord, director, homeland security and justice, before the Subcommittee on Government Operations, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-13-610T, May 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-610T

2. Federal Retirement Processing: OPM Is Pursuing Incremental Information Technology Improvements after Canceling a Modernization Plagued by Management Weaknesses, by Valerie C. Melvin, director, information management and technology resource issues. GAO-13-580T, May 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-580T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654450.pdf

3. Missile Defense: Opportunity to Refocus on Strengthening Acquisition Management, by Cristina T. Chaplain, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Senate Committee on Armed Services. GAO-13-604T, May 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-604T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654457.pdf

New From the GAO

April 16, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Acquisition Workforce: Federal Agencies Obtain Training to Meet Requirements, but Have Limited Insight into Costs and Benefits of Training Investment. GAO-13-231, March 28.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-231
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653438.pdf

2. Managing For Results: Agencies Have Elevated Performance Management Leadership Roles, but Additional Training Is Needed. GAO-13-356, April 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-356
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653796.pdf

3. Grants Management: Oversight of Selected States’ Disbursement of Federal Funds Addresses Timeliness and Administrative Allowances. GAO-13-392, April 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-392
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653806.pdf

4. IRS Website: Long-Term Strategy Needed to Improve Interactive Services. GAO-13-435, April 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-435
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653777.pdf

Testimonies

1. Federal Support for Renewable and Advanced Energy Technologies, by Frank Rusco, director, natural resources and environment, before the Subcommittees on Oversight and Energy, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. GAO-13-514T, April 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-514T

2. Aviation Safety: FAA Efforts Have Improved Safety, but Challenges Remain in Key Areas, by Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph.D., director, physical infrastructure, before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. GAO-13-442T, April 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-442T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653802.pdf

FAA Makes Tower Closing Decision

March 22, 2013 Comments off

FAA Makes Tower Closing Decision

Source: Federal Aviation Administration

Today, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reached the decision that 149 federal contract towers will close beginning April 7 as part of the agency’s sequestration implementation plan. The agency has made the decision to keep 24 federal contract towers open that had been previously proposed for closure because doing so would have a negative impact on the national interest.

An additional 16 federal contract towers under the “cost share” program will remain open because Congressional statute sets aside funds every fiscal year for these towers. These cost-share program funds are subject to sequestration but the required 5 percent cut will not result in tower closures.

Airline Passenger Travel to Nearly Double in Two Decades

March 12, 2012 Comments off

Airline Passenger Travel to Nearly Double in Two Decades
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released its annual forecast today projecting airline passenger travel will nearly double in the next 20 years. The report underscores the need to continue moving forward with implementation of FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) to accommodate the projected growth.

“More and more Americans are relying on air travel, and the Obama Administration is committed to making sure the U.S. can meet our growing aviation demands,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “Our investment in NextGen is the key to getting passengers and cargo to their destinations more safely, faster, and with less impact on the environment.”

The aviation standard for measuring commercial air travel volume is Revenue Passenger Miles (RPM). An RPM represents one paying passenger traveling one mile. Today’s release of the FAA Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2012-2032 projects RPMs will nearly double over the next two decades, from 815 billion in 2011 to 1.57 trillion in 2032, with an average increase of 3.2 percent per year. The number of commercial operations at FAA and contract towers is expected to increase by more than 45 percent from current levels.

+ Full Report

FAA Issues Final Rule on Pilot Fatigue

December 28, 2011 Comments off

FAA Issues Final Rule on Pilot FatigueSource: Federal Aviation Administration

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Michael Huerta today announced a sweeping final rule that overhauls commercial passenger airline pilot scheduling to ensure pilots have a longer opportunity for rest before they enter the cockpit.


The Department of Transportation identified the issue of pilot fatigue as a top priority during a 2009 airline Safety Call to Action following the crash of Colgan Air flight 3407. The FAA launched an aggressive effort to take advantage of the latest research on fatigue to create a new pilot flight, duty and rest proposal, which the agency issued on September 10, 2010.

+ Fact Sheet

+ Final Rule (PDF)
+ Regulatory Evaluation (PDF)

Outdoor Advertising Control Practices in Australia, Europe, and Japan

August 3, 2011 Comments off

Outdoor Advertising Control Practices in Australia, Europe, and Japan (PDF)
Source: Federal Highway Administration

Although the Highway Beautification Act (HBA) has been credited with reducing the number of nonconforming signs and removing illegal signs throughout the country, the law is controversial and costly to administer. Many have questioned whether it has controlled outdoor advertising or met the intent of the U.S. Congress. The Federal Highway Administration, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and National Cooperative Highway Research program sponsored a scanning study of Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom to learn how they regulate outdoor advertising both inside and outside the roadway right-of-way. The scan team also conducted a desk scan of outdoor advertising practices in Japan.

In its study, the scan team observed the following: (1) context-sensitive and safety-oriented laws and regulations, (2) no regulation of nonconforming signs or distinction between on-premise and off-premise signs, (3) emphasis on safety and environmental impacts in guidelines and permit requirements, and (4) more collaboration between outdoor advertising stakeholders than in the United States. The scan team assembled implementation ideas under the following improvement goals: streamlining the program, improving efficiency, improving transparency, adopting a context-sensitive approach, and enhancing safety.

FAA and NATCA Reach Agreement on Fatigue Recommendations

July 6, 2011 Comments off

FAA and NATCA Reach Agreement on Fatigue Recommendations
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) today announced agreement (PDF) on important fatigue recommendations that were developed by a joint FAA-NATCA working group which was established under the 2009 collective bargaining agreement.

“The American public must have confidence that our nation’s air traffic controllers are rested and ready to work,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  “We have the safest air transportation system in the world but we needed to make changes and we are doing that.”

The agreement reinforces existing FAA policy that prohibits air traffic controllers from sleeping while they are performing assigned duties.  The FAA will continue to provide air traffic controllers breaks on the midnight shift based on staffing and workload.  While on break, air traffic controllers are expected to conduct themselves professionally and be available for recall at all times.

The FAA and NATCA also agreed that all air traffic controllers must report for work well-rested and mentally alert.  It is the employee’s responsibility to notify their supervisor if they are too fatigued to perform their air traffic control duties.  As a result of this agreement, air traffic controllers can now request to take leave if they are too fatigued to work air traffic.

This agreement marks the completion of the tasks required by this joint FAA-NATCA fatigue working group. The FAA and NATCA will continue to collaborate to reduce the risk of fatigue in the workplace.

FAA Will Mandate Inspections for Early Models of 737 Aircraft

April 6, 2011 Comments off

FAA Will Mandate Inspections for Early Models of 737 Aircraft
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

The FAA will issue an emergency directive tomorrow that will require operators of specific early Boeing 737 models to conduct initial and repetitive electromagnetic inspections for fatigue damage. This action will initially apply to a total of approximately 175 aircraft worldwide, 80 of which are U.S.-registered aircraft. Most of the aircraft in the U.S. are operated by Southwest Airlines.

The FAA airworthiness directive will require initial inspections using electromagnetic, or eddy-current, technology in specific areas of the aircraft fuselage on certain Boeing 737 aircraft in the -300, -400 and -500 series that have accumulated more than 30,000 flight cycles. It will then require repetitive inspections at regular intervals.

+ Airworthiness Directive

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