Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Columbia County Airport (1B1), Hudson, New York: Federal Aviation Administration's airport reclassification may ease runway safety issues

Initial plans for a 1,000-foot runway safety area at Columbia County Airport could be clipped by as much as 700 feet after the Federal Aviation Administration had the facility’s classification changed.

Steve Urlass, a regional Federal Aviation Administration director, notified the Board of Supervisors’ Airport Committee on Thursday the federal agency reclassified the county’s airport because it saw fewer jet flights per year. Changing classifications from a D-2, to a B-2 airport facility, had to do with the approach, speed and size of the aircraft landing and taking off from Ghent, said Supervisor Art Bassin, D-Ancram, as chairman of the Airport Committee.

“The major difference, though, is they have different requirements for safety zones,” he said. “What the FAA told us was because we didn’t have more than 500 jets per year, they would be comfortable reclassifying us.”

Now the Columbia County Airport’s runway safety area can be regulated at either 600 or 300 feet, depending on approach visibility. The 300-foot alternative, “which would basically solve our problem,” Bassin said, also has the endorsement of the airport’s fixed-base operator, Richmor Aviation.

“We have 200 feet at the end of the runway,” Bassin said. “We could take off 100 feet from the runway and meet the 300-foot requirement.”

He did not have any hard estimates on the total savings, but said “we’re talking about a lot less: less than ($500,000) for the airport safety area, and less than $1 million when we require the (aerial navigation) easements.”

Two months ago, the Board of Supervisors voted 3,209 to 305 in favor of the Airport Committee’s agreed-on plan for a 1,000-foot safety area on the runway’s northern end.

Every county supervisor seated on the Airport Committee but Supervisor Mike Benson, R-New Lebanon, voted for the modified runway plan developed by Supervisor John Porreca Sr., R-Greenport. The committee also includes Supervisors Art Baer, D-Hillsdale, and Mike Benvenuto, R-Ghent.

Projected at $3 million, the Porreca plan keeps the 5,350-foot runway jet-friendly by paving it 450 feet south, and limiting landings at both ends to 4,950 feet through threshold displacements and declared distances.

Not only does the reclassification drastically reduce runway safety area’s size, it also “shortens and shrinks the area for (aerial navigation) easements,” Bassin said. He was unsure, though, of what the new configuration might be.

“We’re going to have to wait and get a design of what the (aerial navigation) easements are,” Bassin said.

Carmen Nero, the principal owner of the airport-adjacent Meadowgreens Golf Course, had initially rejected the county’s $629,000 offer to purchase 16 acres, in addition to 90 acres of aerial navigation easements to build the runway safety area. However, Nero offered in March to sell the entire 150-acre Meadowgreens property for $1.5 million.

He and the committee have not discussed the effects of the FAA’s reclassification, although Bassin said they would “hopefully sit down” together shortly.

“We haven’t had a conversation on (eminent domain) because it has not been appropriate,” Bassin said.

But Columbia County Attorney Rob Fitzsimmons, he added, did draft a request for proposal to that end last year that attracted “three of four” law firms.

“We’re all kind of delighted the way it’s turning out the way it is,” Bassin said. “We’re expecting a letter from the FAA to confirm this is an option for us.”

Source: http://www.registerstar.com

New Federal Aviation Administration rules raise concerns over air traffic controller qualifications

KSN is looking into new air traffic controller requirements, mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration, to see if they could be making matters better or worse, especially as several reports are pouring in about near-misses, airliner collisions, and close calls mid-air, at airports across the United States.

Viewer, Andrew Eakin, 22, is a Kansas native who graduated from Arizona State University in May 2014.

“Air traffic control… It’s been a life-long dream of mine to become a controller,” said Eakin. “I entered in good faith into the CTI program at ASU expecting that it was going be the method to ultimately achieve my goal.”

Eakin tells KSN that last-minute intervention by the FAA foiled his plans to become an air traffic controller, only months before graduation.

For more than 20 years, the FAA has worked closely with Collegiate Training Initiative, or CTI, schools across the country. There are 36 nationwide.

KSN reached out to the only CTI air traffic control program in the state of Kansas; Hesston College. We spoke with the Aviation Program Director, Dan Miller.

“Our commitment to the FAA is to provide a teachable student; someone that comes with the basic knowledge,” said Miller.

While graduating from a CTI school was not required, it often gave students the upper-hand.

“The new requirements for becoming an air traffic controller is anyone with a high school education, and three years or more of progressive work experience,” said Eakin.

Among the new requirements however, an online biographical assessment is getting the most attention. Eakin failed the assessment and was “disqualified for further consideration” in becoming an air traffic controller.

Eakin is one of many reported CTI students, graduates, and current air traffic controllers who have failed the assessment.

In February 2014, 28,000 people reportedly applied for air traffic controller jobs with the FAA. Of those, however, Eakin says only 8% passed the 62-question assessment.
Some industry experts argue it is about ‘diversity.’

“This questionnaire has questions that have seemingly no relevance to the successfulness [sic] of air traffic controllers,” said Eakin.

“Explanations were given as to the reason why the changes were coming, but they were very poorly constructed,” Miller told KSN. “They did not offer significant time to digest what was going on before it happened,” he continued.

“It left us [asking], ‘Where do we fit? How do we fit? How do we provide an educated potential employee to the FAA when we have really limited understanding of where they’re at from an agency standpoint?’ said Miller.

Miller told KSN there is no guarantee.

“Aviation is changing at a faster pace than what we can stay current with, though we try very hard,” said Miller. “The idea that you’re going to walk in to an air traffic role and be there for the next 25 years has its limitations.”

According to the FAA’s website, in order to become an air traffic controller, you must:

1. Be a citizen of the United States

2. Start at the FAA Academy no later than your 31st birthday

3. Pass a medical examination

4. Pass a security investigation

5. Have “three years of progressively responsible work experience, or a Bachelor’s degree, or a combination of post-secondary education and work experience” amounting to three years in total

6. Pass the FAA air traffic pre-employment tests

7. Speaking English clearly

Source: http://www.faa.gov/jobs/career_fields/aviation_careers/

To continue reading about careers in aviation with the Federal Aviation Administration, visit http://www.faa.gov or click here.

For more information about the Association of Collegiate Training Institutions, click here.

Story and video: http://ksn.com

Tehachapi Municipal Airport (KTSP), California: Fire agencies conduct nighttime fire drill

In a blazing demonstration of interagency cooperation, six fire agencies executed a successful night time aerial fire drill on June 5.

Ten helicopters and five fire departments touched down at Tehachapi Municipal Airport, prepared to execute a nightlong exercise that involved putting out a controlled fire at Cummings Ranch.

The drill, held for many years in Orange County, is the first time that Kern County hosted the event. It involved the use of night vision goggles in order to help pilots pinpoint where to drop water obtained at Brite Lake.

"The agenda was to go out and practice dropping water on a wildland fire," said Kern County Fire Chief Brian Marshall.

Both air and ground crews participated in the event. Ground support provided directions for the fire pilots making the water drops.

"It's a communication between the ground crews and the helicopter pilots," Marshall said.

Pilots utilize night vision goggles as part of the exercise, a $12,000 piece of equipment Marshall said is extremely beneficial.

"It takes the starlight, the moonlight and the light from the fire and magnifies vision so they can actually see the ground, see the windmills and terrain features so they can fly (at night) like they do during the day," Marshall said.

Pilots utilized Brite Lake as a filling up point for water used in the drops. According to Brandon Hill from the Kern County Fire Department, crews filled helicopters on the ground instead of executing dipping motions off the lake's surface from the air.

At Cummings Ranch, ground crews were on hand to render support and to control the perpetual fire they set. Kern County fire trucks and crews were out in force, along with agencies from Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura, Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service.

Marshall, Kern's fire chief, noted the training was invaluable to all participating parties.

"Every agency has to train its firefighters and its pilots to make sure they're ready to go when the alarm goes off," Marhsall said. "The financial impact is not that much, but the training value you can't place a price tag on.

The fire drill underscored another element: preparing for another dry season. Marshall said every summer can be potentially devastating for California when it comes to fires. Three years of drought have not helped much.

"The drought has really made the fire season more dangerous," Marshall.

County and city officials remind property owners of the need to do clearances with the deadline of June 15.

Source:  http://www.tehachapinews.com