Southern Region Congressional Interest Newsletter - FY2017 - Winter

Message from Southern Region Administrator Dennis Roberts

On October 24, I had the pleasure of touring UPS Worldport facility at Louisville International Airport (SDF) and recognizing the company's support of Data Communications at the airport.

UPS has provided the FAA with operational and technical insight gained from equipping their aircraft and training crews on Data Comm. The FAA is benefiting from their experience. The benefits of Data Comm will grow as more Data Comm equipped aircraft fly in the National Airspace System (NAS).

What is Data Comm and how does it benefit the NAS? Data Comm allows flight crews and air traffic controllers to exchange digital electronic information, supplementing existing voice communications. We get the greatest benefits from Data Comm during and after severe weather events when air traffic controllers have to reroute flights.

In the past, controllers communicated individually to each flight crew over radio frequencies, which is very time consuming. Now, with Data Comm the process is faster and saves resources. It significantly reduces flight delays for flights sitting at gates, and it saves time for flights as they taxi to the runway for takeoff.

Today, Data Comm equipped aircraft comprise 25 percent of SDF's daily operations and this is one of the highest percentage of Data Comm operations in the country. SDF was also one of the first Air Traffic Control Towers in the United States equipped with Data Comm. The FAA and its industry partners have delivered Data Comm to more than 50 towers to date, almost two and a half years ahead of the original plan. Ten of the towers - 20 percent of the equipped facilities - are in Southern Region.

FAA Evaluates Drone Detection Systems

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) that enter the protected airspace around airports can pose a serious threat to manned aviation safety. The FAA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are conducting drone-detection research with state and local officials, and academia, to evaluate new technologies for detecting unmanned aircraft near airports. Recent field-testing at Denver International Airport was a major milestone in the development of minimum operational performance standards for drone detection at major airport and critical infrastructure locations.

The work in Denver is one of six technical evaluations scheduled over an 18-month period as part of the FAA’s Pathfinder Program for UAS Detection at Airports and Critical Infrastructure.

NextGen Flight 101

“Take off” on NextGen Flight 101 to see firsthand how the FAA has optimized communications, operations, and performance to deliver direct benefits to airlines, airport operations and the flying public. From ground operations to in flight communications, this NextGen experience illustrates how the FAA and its partners are changing the way we fly.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Safety Outreach

Attention holiday drone shoppers: Fly smart this holiday season and all year long.

Controllers Save Lives

Listen to an air traffic audio recording of Jacksonville controller Dwayne McLean as he aided the pilot of a single-engine airplane struggling to maintain orientation in heavy cloud cover on Sept. 4.

NextGen at FedEx

A few seconds can make a big difference during the busy holiday package season. Dan Allen, managing director of flight technical and regulatory compliance at FedEx Express, describes benefits his company is experiencing through the use of three of FAA's NextGen technologies: Wake Recategorization, Optimized Profile Descents, and Data Communications.

ADS-B Rebate Program for General Aviation Aircraft Owners

Watch a video overview of the ADS-B Rebate Program Process and the five simple steps to claiming $500:

  1. Decide
  2. Reserve
  3. Install
  4. Fly & Validate
  5. Claim

Aeromedical Advisory: The Big Question

by Dr. James Fraser, FAA Federal Air Surgeon

The FAA Extension Act of 2016, with its provisions for medical certification relief, was signed by President Obama on July 15. When the law was signed, we immediately assigned a team to work on sorting out the details so we could write a rule that complies with the legislation and meets the required timeline.

Space Data Integrator

The Office of Commercial Space Transportation is testing the Space Data Integrator a tool to help reduce the size and time airspace must be closed for space launch and reentry operations.

The Space Data Integrator builds a flight plan based on launch and re-entry trajectories provided by the space operator. Once the mission begins, the operator constantly feeds flight data such as latitude, longitude, speed and altitude from the space vehicle’s telemetry system into the SDI via the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center.

New Small Airplane Safety Certification Standards

This innovative rule will reduce the time it takes to move safety enhancing technologies for small airplanes into the marketplace and will also reduce costs for the aviation industry.

"The FAA’s rule replaces prescriptive design requirements with performance-based standards, which will reduce costs and leverage innovation without sacrificing safety.” - U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx

FAA’s new Part 23 rule (PDF) establishes performance-based standards for airplanes that weigh less than 19,000 pounds with 19 or fewer seats and recognizes consensus-based compliance methods for specific designs and technologies. It also adds new certification standards to address general aviation loss of control accidents and in-flight icing conditions.

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