Archive for the ‘FAA News’ Category

FAA Administrator Signals Safety Evolution

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Plane above morning Earth

Speaking today at the Flight Safety Foundation’s Newsmaker Breakfast at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Federal AviationAdministration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta announced the next step in the FAA’s continuing evolution of working with those it regulates. The FAA developed the new Compliance Philosophy to  enhance our ability to find safety problems before they result in an incident or accident, use the best tools to fix those problems, and then monitor the situation to ensure that no new problems develop. This approach recognizes that most operators comply with the rules and use Safety Management Systems to identify hazards. They then assess the risks from those hazards, and put measures in place to mitigate the risks.

The Compliance Philosophy challenges the status quo. The FAA wants safe operators, not operators who inadvertently make a mistake and then hide it because they’re afraid they will be punished. Based on cooperation and trust, it encourages an open and transparent exchange of information and data between the FAA and industry. The Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) successfully used this approach to reduce the risk in U.S. commercial aviation by 83 percent over 10 years.

“The FAA’s Compliance Philosophy helps the FAA and industry to use critical thinking to work smarter and more efficiently to get to the bottom of potential safety problems,” said Huerta. “It’s about finding a problem, fixing a problem, and making sure it stays fixed.”

Huerta stressed that the FAA will continue to have zero tolerance for intentional reckless behavior, inappropriate risk-taking, repeat failures, falsification, failure to fulfill commitments, or deviation from regulatory standards.  The FAA will continue to vigorously pursue enforcement action in these circumstances.

Read FAA Administrator Huerta’s speech on

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FAA Awards $24.5 Million in Environmental Grants to Airports

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Beautiful view of silhouette of airplaneWASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently awarded $24.5 million in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grants to 11 airports around the country to reduce emissions and improve air quality through the FAA’s Voluntary Airport Low Emission (VALE) 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,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “The U.S. Department of Transportation is committed to working with airports and communities across the nation to improve air quality and protect the health of future generations of Americans.”

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 percent 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 FAA continues to award grants for projects with short-term and long-term emissions reductions benefits on or near airports,” said FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta.  “These airports must be responsible environmental stewards and good neighbors to their surrounding communities.”

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 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 GPUs and PCA units.
  • Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall, $2.5 million– to purchase and install eight GPUs and eight PCAs 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, OH, $2.7 million– to purchase and install 13 GPUs and 11 PCAs at passenger gates.
  • Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International, AL $2.6 million – to purchase seven clean fuel burning vehicles and a refueling station.
  • Indianapolis International, $3.9 million– to purchase and install 12 GPUs 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, TX, $1.6 million – to purchase and install five PCAs and GPUs for passenger gates.
  • Cleveland Hopkins International, $1.1 million – to install four GPUs and PCAs 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.

Through VALE, airports are reducing ozone emissions by approximately 801 tons per year, which is equivalent to removing more than 44,735 cars and trucks from the road annually.  In fiscal year 2014, the FAA issued $16.6 million in VALE grants for nine projects at nine airports.  Since 2005, the FAA has funded 87 VALE projects at 44 airports, which represents a total investment of $215 million in clean airport technology.  That amount includes $173 million in federal grants and $42 million in local airport matching funds.

The Airport Improvement Program (AIP) provides more than $3 billion in annual funding for projects that are vital to maintaining the safety, security, capacity, efficiency, and environmental stewardship of the nation’s airports.  More than 3,300 airports are eligible for AIP grants benefiting commercial passengers, cargo operations, and general aviation activities throughout the nation.

The VALE program supports the objectives of the President’s Climate Action Plan.  The Plan builds on efforts to address climate change and support clean energy innovation.  The Plan also includes historic investments in advanced vehicle and fuel technologies, public transit, and rail under the Recovery Act.  The investments also include ambitious new fuel economy standards put into place for cars and trucks, which the Administration has worked to develop since 2009 in collaboration with industry.

For more information about the programs, visit:

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FAA Dedicates Runway Pavement Testing Facility

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

FAA Press Release:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today dedicated its new National Airport Pavement & Materials Research Center at the William J. Hughes Technical Center at Egg Harbor Township, N.J.

The research center is a unique facility that allows FAA engineers to use a custom-designed vehicle simulator to test asphalt and other pavement materials at very high tire pressures and temperatures. Airport pavement temperatures can reach 140 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit as far north as New York City. Tire pressure ranges from 220 to 250 pounds per square inch on new generation aircraft like the Boeing 787 and Airbus 350. The vehicle simulator has an automated heating system that allows engineers to replicate and analyze the damage that heavy commercial jets can cause to the top asphalt layer when runways are hot. The vehicle was designed to simulate the behavior and weight of aircraft tires, and can show how repetitive aircraft operations affect pavement.

FAA engineers will move the Heavy Vehicle Simulator-Airfields (HVS-A) by remote control between four outdoor pavement test strips and two strips inside a new building, to allow for testing in a controlled environment. FAA engineers recently used the HVS-A to test the performance of airfield paint markings. The HVS-A is 130 feet long, 16 feet wide, 14 feet tall and weighs 240,000 pounds.

The new center will enable the FAA to research environmentally-friendly airport pavement materials such as warm-mix and recycled asphalt pavements.  The FAA’s goal is to expand the use of “greener” materials, and pavement materials that can be modified to enhance pavement durability, workability and strength. This will help airport operators save money by lowering the costs of initial construction, maintenance, and repairs, and will provide a longer pavement life.

The FAA has not recommended the use of environmentally-friendly airport pavement materials yet because research on the effects of aircraft tire pressure and heavy gear loads on green airport pavement materials has been limited.

Construction of the test facility began in August 2013 and was completed in May 2015 at a total cost of $3.8 million. The FAA accepted delivery of the $4.2 million HVS-A on November 1, 2013.

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FAA: Wildfires and Drones Don’t Mix

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

If You Fly We Can't

WASHINGTON – Responding to recent incidents in which unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as “drones,” interfered with manned aircraft involved in wildland firefighting operations, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is supporting the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service in their simple message to drone operators: If you fly; we can’t.

“Flying a drone near aerial firefighting aircraft doesn’t just pose a hazard to the pilots,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “When aircraft are grounded because an unmanned aircraft is in the vicinity, lives are put at greater risk.”

Often a temporary flight restriction (TFR) is put in place around wildfires to protect firefighting aircraft.  No one other than the agencies involved in the firefighting effort can fly any manned or unmanned aircraft in such a TFR. Anyone who violates a TFR and endangers the safety of manned aircraft could be subject to civil and/or criminal penalties. Even if there is no TFR, operating a UAS could still pose a hazard to firefighting aircraft and would violate Federal Aviation Regulations.

“The FAA’s top priority is safety.  If you endanger manned aircraft or people on the ground with an unmanned aircraft, you could be liable for a fine ranging from $1,000 to a maximum of $25,000,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “Know the rules before you fly.  If you don’t, serious penalties could be coming your way for jeopardizing these important missions.”

Since so many people operate unmanned aircraft with little or no aviation experience, the FAA is promoting voluntary compliance and working to educate UAS operators about how they can operate safely under current regulations and laws. The agency has partnered with industry and the modeling community in a public outreach campaign called “Know Before You Fly.”

The campaign recently reminded UAS users to respect wildfire operations.  The National Interagency Fire Center also posted a video warning for users to, “Be Smart. Be Safe. Stay Away.”

Additionally, the FAA provided guidance to law enforcement agencies because they are often in the best position to deter, detect, immediately investigate, and, as appropriate, pursue enforcement actions to stop unauthorized or unsafe unmanned aircraft operations.

So remember this simple message around wildfires: If you fly, they can’t. Keep your drone on the ground and let firefighters and aircraft do their jobs. And, if you see someone flying a drone near a wildfire, report it immediately to local law enforcement and the nearest FAA Flight Standards District Office with as much information as possible. You can find the closest FAA office at:

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FAA Allows Commercial Operation for the Black Hawk Helicopter

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015


The Black Hawk Helicopter’s Role in Military

The Black Hawk helicopter was designed by Sikorsky in the early 70’s to replace the army’s UH-1 Huey. It began to be utilized in 1979, and is still a vital component of military operations. It’s effectiveness for transport of troops, search and rescue, Special Operations and other battlefield assignments has made it a very necessary part of our military’s arsenal, and should be a part for the next few years. However, according to the National Defense Magazine, “the helicopter designs used by the various military branches are at least 30-50 years old.” The Apache attack helicopters and the Sikorsky Black Hawks have both been in use for around 40 years. Because of this, the Army has instituted a plan they call “Future Vertical Lift”, which will include up to four new helicopter models over the span of the next 20 years. One of the proposed replacements is what the Army calls a “ultra” helo that will be so large that it can carry off missions that only the fixed-wing C-130 transport plane can handle.

The New FAA Regulation

Now, with the Black Hawk facing a phase-out based on the plans for new models in the future, it seems that the circumstances may have laid the groundwork for the FAA issuing what is called a “groundbreaking new regulation” pertaining to the commercial operations of the Black Hawk. This restricted-category type certification to (Black Hawk) helicopters will allow commercial operations of the Sikorsky UH-60A for firefighting and other special operations such as aerial crane, contruction and film production. Now, more than the 60 UH-60A recently sold by the U.S. Army, can be used for commercial purposes. Firehawk Helicopters first obtained approval for this certification. This is the first certificate of its kind to be given to a privately-held company. Now, Firehawk Helicopters, Brown Helicopter, and Dynamic Aviation either have or have available for purchase 40 plus UH-60/S-70‘s.

Commercial Uses

The Black Hawk can now be used in multiple commercial scenarios, but one is probably not needed more that its firefighting capabilities. Typically, in a firefighting mission, the smaller helicopters are first on the scene; then, the “heavy lifters” such as the Firehawk Black Hawks are sent in to fight the largest, most threatening fires. The big Black Hawks can safely carry huge 900-gallon buckets, and have cruising speeds of 160-200 MPH, which enables it to access the fire quickly. As the demands of the private sector increase in the areas of border patrol, law enforcement and emergency services, and the increasing needs created by natural disasters (such as Hurricane Katrina), more non-military helicopters such as the Black Hawk, can now be made available.

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FAA Transitions to ERAM System at Air Traffic Control Centers Across USA

Thursday, May 14th, 2015


En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM)

En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM)

As of March 27, 2015, En Route Automation Modernization, ERAM, has replaced the 40-year-old En Route Host computer and backup system used at 20 FAA Air Route Traffic Control Centers nationwide. The transition to ERAM was one of the most complex, challenging, and ambitious programs deployed by FAA. In effect, this transition represented a live transplant of the “heart” of today’s air traffic control system while maintaining safe and efficient flight operations for the flying public.

ERAM technology is the heart of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) and the pulse of the National Airspace System (NAS), helping to advance our transition from a ground-based system of air traffic control to a satellite-based system of air traffic management.

ERAM is vital to the future of air navigation, providing the foundational platform required for FAA to enable NextGen solutions, via modernization programs such as System Wide Information Management, Data Communications, and Automatic Dependent Surveillance- Broadcast.

Going forward ERAM will provide benefits for users and the flying public by increasing air traffic flow and improving automated navigation and conflict detection services, both of which are vital to meeting future demand and preventing gridlock and delays.

ERAM increases capacity and improves efficiency in our skies. En Route controllers are able to track 1,900 aircraft at a time instead of the previous 1,100 flight capability. Additionally, now coverage extends beyond facility boundaries, enabling controllers to handle traffic more efficiently. This extended coverage is possible because ERAM can process data from 64 radars versus the 24 radar processing with the legacy Host system.

For pilots, ERAM increases flexible routing around congestion, weather, and other restrictions. Real-time air traffic management and information-sharing on flight restrictions improves airlines’ ability to plan flights with minimal changes. Reduced vectoring and increased radar coverage leads to smoother, faster, and more cost-efficient flights.

For controllers, ERAM provides a user-friendly interface with customizable displays. Trajectory modeling is more accurate, allowing maximum airspace use, better conflict detection and improved decision making. ERAM substantially increases the number of flights that can be tracked. Two functionally-identical channels with dual redundancy eliminate a single point of failure. ERAM also revolutionizes controller training with a realistic, high-fidelity system that challenges developmental practices with complex approaches, maneuvers, and simulated pilot scenarios that are unavailable using today’s system.

Air traffic controllers and facilities are the backbone of safe NAS operations, transporting the flying public to their destinations efficiently. With ERAM, controllers benefit from increased collaboration and seamless data sharing between Centers.


Point of Contact

Kevin Young
ERAM Program Manager
(202) 267-0467

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FAA – Airline Passenger Numbers Double In Next 20 Years

Thursday, March 15th, 2012
Click to visit our flight training school page - FAA graphic

With the airline industry doubling in size in the next two decades, now may be the best time ever to launch a career as an airline pilot

WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released its annual forecast on March 8, 2012 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.

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.

According to the forecast, the total number of people flying commercially on U.S. airlines will increase by 0.2 percent to 732 million in 2012, then to 746 million in 2013, and then increase more rapidly to 1.2 billion in 2032. The aviation system is expected to reach one billion passengers per year in 2024.

Cargo traffic on U.S. airlines, as measured by Revenue Ton Miles (RTMs – one ton of cargo flying one mile) is projected to more than double over the course of the forecast, growing at an average rate of 4.9 percent per year.

In 2011, traffic growth remained modest with passengers increasing by 2.5 percent from 2010 and RPMs up 3.5 percent from 2010.  Landings and takeoffs handled by FAA and FAA contract towers in 2011 were down by 1.0 percent from 2010. However, the number of commercial aircraft handled at the FAA’s high-altitude en route centers grew by 4.8 percent in 2011 over the previous year.

The forecast projects the strongest growth in general aviation in jet aircraft, which is expected to grow at a rate of 2.9 percent per year, with a 4 percent per year growth rate in hours flown.

The actual forecast can be viewed by going to:

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Boeing 787 Dreamliner Gets FAA Production Approval

Friday, August 26th, 2011

EVERETT, WA – Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Randy Babbitt today announced that the FAA has approved production of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

At an event at Boeing’s facility in Everett, Washington, Administrator Babbitt presented Boeing executives with two certificates for the design and production of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner with Rolls-Royce engines. The first, a Type Certificate, is for the FAA’s approval of the airplane’s design. The second, a Production Certificate, allows Boeing to manufacture the 787 following a rigorous review by FAA inspectors of Boeing’s quality system, production tooling, manufacturing processes and controls, inspection methods, and supplier control procedures.

“The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is an incredible technological achievement – one that sets a new standard for innovation,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “The new engine technology is fuel-efficient and reduces noise, minimizing the impact on the environment. Those are key to meeting our NextGen goals.”

“Today’s achievement could not have been possible without the professionalism and dedication of the FAA team involved in the certification,” said Administrator Babbitt. “The engineers, inspectors and flight test pilots all worked diligently to ensure our high safety standards were met.”

The Boeing 787 is a medium-size commercial transport airplane. It’s the world’s first major airliner to use composite materials for most of its construction, more than 50 percent by weight. The airplane will use 20 percent less fuel and produce less noise compared to similarly sized airplanes. It was designed and manufactured by suppliers and partners around the world and integrated at final assembly. The 787 incorporates many capabilities of the nation’s Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen.

The European Safety Agency (EASA) also issued a same day validation of the FAA Type Certificate of the 787.

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Pilots Still Able to Fly Despite FAA Shutdown

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Despite an FAA shutdown, essential services to pilots will continue. Photo courtesy of Brandon Farris, copyright 2011,

After a recent Congressional adjournment, concerns grew that without reauthorizing the FAA’s operating authority essential services may not be available and aviation would grind to a halt.

Despite furloughs and other shutdowns, the FAA is committed to providing essential services like air traffic control and notam services. Unfortunately, nearly 4,000 employees of non-essential services, including research and development programs and Airport Improvement Programs, have been furloughed and the programs shuttered in the wake of Congress’ failure to pass a reauthorization.

As for essential functions, FAA officials have assured aviation groups that that ATC, notam and flight services, aeromedical branch, and the airman registry branch will to continue uninterrupted.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt blasted Congress for their failure to pass a reauthorization bill stating that “These are real people with families who do not deserve to be put out of work during these tough economic times.”

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood added in a statement issued Friday, that he was “very disappointed that Congress adjourned today without passing a clean extension of the FAA bill. Because of their inaction, states and airports won’t be able to work on their construction projects, and too many people will have to go without a paycheck. This is no way to run the best aviation system in the world.”

According to Administrator Babbitt, Congress will have to decide whether to pay FAA employees who are laid-off for the time they spend on furlough. Furloughed employees include “engineers, scientists, research analysts, administrative assistants, computer specialists, program managers and analysts, environmental protection specialists, and community planners.”

Additionally, many other organization can expect to see effects from Congressional inaction. During the days preceding the shutdown, the FAA ceased processing Airport Improvement Program grants which are the life-blood for many airport projects. A number of state-level programs have also been effected by the shutdown which has terminated their access to millions in funds.

For more information on flight training and choosing the right school, check out our Flight Training Resource Center or find flight training near you.

Source: Update: FAA shuts down, flight ops unaffected
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at

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Trouble for iPads in the Cockpit?

Friday, July 29th, 2011

The FAA is proposing an advisory circular that would severely curtail the use of EFBs, including the Apple iPad, in the cockpit. Photo courtesy Brandon Farris, copyright 2011

The FAA is proposing an advisory circular that would limit the use of iPads and other electronic flight bags (EFBs) in the cockpit below 10,000 feet. AOPA and GAMA, two large aviation advocacy groups, have voiced their opposition to the proposal. Such a proposal could stunt the growth of EFBs over the next few years.

The proposed advisory circular, known as “Guidelines for the Certification, Airworthiness, and Operational Use of Electronic Flight Bags EFB,” is concerned with the use and development of these devices under the Next Generation Air Transportation System. Advocacy groups are concerned that under the current proposal EFB use wouldn’t be allowed below 10,000 feet or that expensive testing programs would be required.

The groups are so put off by the proposal, that they have asked the FAA to scrap the current proposal and start anew. Both AOPA and GAMA have expressed their support for EFB technology, including iPad based solutions, believing that they are an affordable option to provide pilots with NextGen capabilities. Under the proposed advisory circular, however, these devices would no longer provide much benefit to the average pilot.

The concern is that, the proposal applies to “operational use” of all EFBs rather than current regulations which only require “operational approval” in certain situations. The groups are asking that the FAA limit the effect of this proposed change to Part 91 operations to subpart k.

Additionally, the groups feel that requiring a stringent and rigorous testing program for off-the-shelf electronics at the operator level is wasteful and impractical. Instead the groups suggest that the FAA limit these requirements to EFB solutions incorporating Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and RNAV guidance. This would allow simpler devices, like iPads displaying charts or simple handheld GPS receivers, to  improve situational awareness while holding more advanced devices to a higher standard.

For more information on flight training and choosing the right school, check out our Flight Training Resource Center or find a flight training school near you.

Source: Electronic flight bag crusher?
This article was written by Matthew Everett, a private pilot, aviation writer, and frequent contributor to You can follow him on twitter @leaving_tf or find his blog at

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