Saturday, June 25, 2016

Federal Aviation Administration Drone Rules Break New Ground: Agency changes its economic calculus in taking a more flexible regulatory approach to commercial drones

Kathryn's Report:

The Wall Street Journal
By Andy Pasztor
June 24, 2016 6:32 p.m. ET

New federal rules permitting routine commercial-drone flights also establish legal precedents that could affect an array of future air-safety regulations, according to industry officials.

They say the Federal Aviation Administration rules released earlier this week break new ground by relying on a different and much broader definition of economic benefit than is typical for the agency.

Rather than using traditional safety measures such as fewer anticipated accidents or incidents, the FAA focused this time on “social benefits” stemming from promoting growth of the fledgling unmanned aircraft industry while reducing compliance costs for companies and designated pilots.

By easing compliance, the FAA “essentially established one of the most flexible regulatory regimes” imaginable, according to Jim Williams, the agency’s former top drone official, who now works for the global law firm Dentons.

When the goal is removing or reshaping highly prescriptive requirements as it was in this instance, “you can’t really do it the same old way,” he said in an interview. “You’re going to see more of these types of cost-benefit analyses.”

The FAA projects spending at least $150 million in taxpayer funds through 2020 to hire additional employees and implement the new rules.

But depending on how fast the industry takes off and on the proportion of business users versus hobbyists, the FAA estimates net “social benefits” will range between $733 million and about $9 billion over the same period.

If the FAA and White House regulatory watchdogs adopt a similarly inclusive approach to defining benefits in other aviation contexts, the agency could find it easier to justify proposing new safety mandates during an era of record low airline accidents.

The long-awaited drone rules permit low-altitude, daylight flights of unmanned vehicles weighing less than 55 pounds, and open the door for industry to seek a wide range of waivers.

Until now, virtually all major FAA rulemaking initiatives had to demonstrate that total benefits derived from safety enhancements—typically measured by projections of fewer accidents—would exceed total industry compliance costs.

In an initial 2015 proposal, the FAA adhered to that general concept by noting that drones could replace manned aircraft performing tasks “under potentially hazardous conditions.” The proposal pinpointed “laborers inspecting high towers” and manned aircraft engaged in aerial photography. By avoiding accidents and saving just “one human life,” it said, the benefits would outweigh costs.

But in making the case for drone oversight, the FAA’s final cost-benefit breakdown discards such arguments and instead features some novel language. It doesn’t quantify accidents prevented; rather the analysis notes, among other things, that private-sector benefits will exceed anticipated costs because each entity will determine for itself whether it is financially worthwhile to operate drones under the rules.

Instead of sticking with the usual principle of balancing compliance costs against projections of lives saved or crashes prevented, the rule assumes companies and individuals will be motivated to make compliance investments under the new regulatory framework in order to benefit from the burgeoning market.

Until the rule goes into effect in August, commercial drone operations will be allowed to continue operating only under specific exemption requests.

An FAA spokeswoman declined comment, though senior agency officials for years have chafed under the constraints of traditional cost-benefit analyses. Commercial aircraft accident and serious-incident rates are so low in the U.S. that agency leaders have been increasingly challenged to quantify the value of mandating further safety investments.

The FAA used principles similar to the drone rules, referred to as “performance-based regulations,” when it announced streamlined rules earlier this year for certifying new private-plane  models and retrofitting new safety equipment on current general aviation aircraft.

The latest language covering unmanned aircraft was welcomed by drone proponents. The rules “take more of an industry approach” making the safety case “by highlighting broader benefits,” according to Gretchen West, a former trade association leader who now works for the law firm Hogan Lovells.

FAA leaders “are showing a lot more flexibility” than under traditional safety rules, said Jack Schenendorf, a lawyer based in Washington for Covington & Burling LLP. But he added the FAA now “could be flooded with requests” for waivers, and how it handles them will help determine the agency’s success in defining safety issues.

FAA officials, among other things, are considering regulations dealing with minimum experience levels for co-pilots and mentoring of young aviators when they are hired by an airline.

The cost-benefit numbers are included in a few pages and tables in a 624–page regulatory package.

According to industry estimates, the ripple effect from the rule could generate more than 100,000 new jobs and $82 billion in economic activity over the next 10 years.

But even if those projections don’t pan out, industry officials see plenty of opportunities to show ancillary safety benefits. They could include avoiding dozens of fatalities annually across the U.S. by substituting unmanned aircraft for conventional helicopters or individual inspectors now performing dangerous jobs of checking the condition of cellphone towers, power lines, bridges and other infrastructure, sometimes stretching hundreds of feet into the air.

If drones are used to inspect railroad tracks for cracks, for instance, industry consultant Michael Gallagher thinks the FAA should consider the broader safety benefit of preventing fatalities by avoiding derailments.

"It’s not just about safety in the air,” he told a recent conference. Drone operators looking to spot minute cracks in the tracks will “need to get credit for the fact that [they are] actually going to be saving lives” on the ground.

Original article can be found here:

Clearing a path for larger aircraft: Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport (KLMT), Klamath Falls, Klamath County, Oregon

Kathryn's Report:

Joe Goetz, operations manager for Crater Lake-Klamath Regional Airport, points out areas of future construction of Taxiway B — known at the airport as Taxiway Bravo.

It could be called the lucky No. 7 project.

That's how John Barsalou describes the effort to construct Taxiway B, formerly known as Taxiway J, at Crater Lake-Regional Airport, with its construction bid by Rocky Construction coming in at $7,777,777.77.

“Sevens straight across,” Barsalou said.

“It should be a lucky project.”

Klamath Falls City Council members Monday approved the $7.7 million construction bid from Rocky Mountain Construction, of Klamath Falls, to do the work outlined by the city.

They also approved grant application to the Federal Aviation Administration, which gives the airport the green light to apply for more than $7.3 million or 93.75 percent of the project from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The city will pick up the remaining $486,892 of the project, a 6.25 percent match required through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).

Council members also approved an FAA grant for $226,193, which helps pay for site improvements to the Modoc Wetland Mitigation program at the airport. The city pays a 6.25 percent match on the mitigation project, as well.

Less 'traffic jams'

The taxiway is designed with larger aircraft in mind, such as a DC-10, according to Joe Goetz, airport operations manager.

The city expects construction to begin in late fall or late spring, Goetz said on Thursday.

Goetz said the airport and Kingsley Field have landings of similar aircraft "fairly regularly."

"We struggle with where to park them," Goetz said.

"This ramp was originally designed for large aircraft but there's no way to get planes to it right now. "

Goetz said the taxiway will help alleviate "traffic jams" on the runway, and is expected to reduce the amount of time aircraft spend on the runway after a landing.

The construction will add three connections for larger aircraft — two connections to the runway and one connection to the airport's ramp, measuring an estimated 2,500 feet once completed.

Taxiway B is designed to run parallel to the east of the runway known at the airport as 14/32, from the north end of the airport to approximately opposite of Taxiway E, according to a city staff report.

Original article can be found here:

Incident occurred June 24, 2016 at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (KBWI), Baltimore, Maryland

Kathryn's Report:

An Alaska Airlines flight from Maryland to Seattle, Washington, was cancelled after one of the plane’s wheels got stuck in a pothole on the tarmac.

Flight 761 was scheduled to leave Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Friday at 5:25 p.m. 

According to a passenger, Elizabeth King, the plane, heading to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, was originally delayed due to approaching weather.

King said as they prepared to move to the runway, one of the tires got stuck in a pothole. She said the pilot attempted to power out of the hole, but the plane would not move.

She said three tow cables broke as ground crews tried to get the plane to move.

Cole Cosgrove, a spokesperson for Alaska Airlines, said the passengers deplaned on the tarmac. He said there was damage to the wheel, which is why the flight was cancelled.

Cosgrove said repairs to the plane were being made, and they plan to have it ready for an 11 a.m. Saturday departure.

Original article can be found here:

Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake back July 2

Kathryn's Report:

If you have never witnessed Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake, here is your chance. 

Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake will once again bring the re-enactment of a World War II mission to the Pinnacle Golf Club on Cedar Creek Lake  Saturday, July 2.

This airshow is billed as the “fifth largest air show in the United States.” 

According to promoters “This is the only airshow to fly over water in the Southwest.”

The airshow performance takes place entirely over Cedar Creek Lake, where you can watch the action, and listen to the flight controllers from your boat.

Some of the vintage aircraft you will see include an A-37 Dragonfly Jet. The aircraft is a legend.

Although it now sees limited service, it was introduced during the Vietnam War, and has since proven its worth. It has flown thousands of sorties during that period, and although two planes met their end in landing accidents, none ever succumbed to enemy fire.

You will have the opportunity to witness two 1944 WWII B-25 Mitchells, affectionately known as "Show Me," coming from The Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, St. Charles, Missouri. This rare warbird is among only a handful of B-25s to still grace the skies, and one of the few in the Midwest.

The North American B-25 Mitchell was an American twin-engined medium bomber manufactured by North American Aviation. It was used by many Allied air forces, in every theater of World War II, as well as many other air forces after the war ended, and saw service across four decades.

The B-25 was named in honor of Gen. Billy Mitchell, a pioneer of U.S. military aviation. By the end of its production, nearly 10,000 B-25s in numerous models had been built.

Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake was established as the primary fundraiser for the Cedar Creek Veterans Foundation (CCVF).

CCVF's  mission is to honor the men and women who have served to protect our American freedoms, and to be of direct benefit to the survivors of the soldiers by providing financial support for those agencies responsible for their care and nurture.

The families of those individuals who have served are the core to the normalization of our injured, and rehabilitating  soldiers  into the civilian setting.

The airshow will entertain and enthrall you with aerial vintage aircraft, new technology, dog fighting simulations, fly bys, acrobatics and an up-close-and-personal experience with the power of our military jet fighter. The spectators will see an amazing array of both civilian and military aircraft.

The Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake Airshow will honor past and present military personnel, and proceeds will benefit, not only the personnel, but also the families of our selfless military veterans, by assisting with the funds needed by all of the benefiting charities.

View Thunder Over Cedar Creek Air Show free  from boats, local parks and private property, as long as you know, and have permission from the property owners.

There are VIP tickets available, via charitable donation of $50 to the Cedar Creek Veterans Foundation (CCVF). The VIP seating is  located on the private shores of Pinnacle Golf & Boat Club. Tickets to the airshow are required to enter Pinnacle Golf & Boat Club, unless you are a resident or guest of a resident.

Airshow tickets can be purchased at www/ or e-mail Patty Evans  For more information about the airshow, call Evans at 903-451-1020.

Prior to the airshow, the Athens Jet Center will be the place to be, as several of the planes in the show will be on display.  From 9 a.m. until about 2 p.m., there will be several aircraft on display, including two B-25s, a helicopter,  an Albatross,  Mitsubishi Zeros and a mini jet.

Entry into the Jet Center is free, while a fee will be charged for anyone wanting to ride In a B-25.

Weather permitting, Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake is expected to start at 6:30 p.m. on July 2. 

Original article can be found here:

Students get hands-on flying experience: ScienceWorks at Ashland Municipal Airport (S03), Jackson County, Oregon

Kathryn's Report:

ASHLAND, Ore. -- A great experience for the students taking part in the Aviation Academy camp this week from Scienceworks.

"Basically he let go and I have it," student Ethan Kastenberg said. "So you control movement, what's called the roll, left and right bank or a pitch, the nose up and down, and a rudder much like on a boat that helps the turn."

The students in middle and high school got the real-life experience with pilots at the Ashland airport. Each of the students got to go up in the air with a pilot and have the experience of taking control.

"Flying has always been a passion for me," Kastenberg said. "I've always wanted to become a pilot, every time I go up into an aircraft or even around an airport my passion is just renewed."

The academy is helping open the eyes of some students to the field.

"You can see them stretch this one week experience into something that's a reality now for them," Scienceworks education director Summer Brandon said. "That just seemed like a cool camp at one point that becomes much more than that by the time they have a Friday flight."

The hands-on flying experience is the last part of the one week academy held by Scienceworks. The students had lessons on land on week, but the flying really brings everything together.

"I think it's great," Kastenberg said. "It's a great way to end the week anytime you can fly it always brings a smile to your face at the end. I think it's one of the coolest feelings to be up in a tin can several thousand feet above the ground."

Brandon said they've had one student who has taken the program in the past now studying to become a pilot. They expect more to follow.

Story and video:

Porter County Regional Airport (KVPZ) runway project nearing completion

Kathryn's Report:

The smell of fresh tar wafted through the air on a recent afternoon at Porter County Regional Airport while steamrollers and other heavy equipment rolled by.

The warm, sunny day produced heat-induced mirages in the distance on the airport's freshly paved east-west runway.

"It smells like we're on schedule," airport manager Kyle Kuebler said while surveying the scene.

The airport is in the midst of the second phase of a three-phase project that started last year and will cost an estimated $12.6 million. The work entails reconstructing the east-west runway, the bigger of the two runways at the airport, as well as its taxiway.

"This has been the biggest project since the airport was built" in 1948, said Paul Chael, president of the airport authority.

Kuebler expects the current phase of paving to finish up around the end of the month, at which point the runway will be painted with temporary markings and reopen after closing in late April. After the asphalt cures for 30 days, the pavement will be grooved to prevent hydroplaning and receive permanent markings.


The airport received $11.4 million in federal grant money for the work, which started last year and required closing the airport for nine days last August to repave the intersection of the facility's east-west and north-south runways and part of the taxiway system.

The Federal Aviation Administration is funding 90 percent of the work, Kuebler said, with a state match from the Indiana Department of Transportation of 5 percent. The Regional Development Authority and the county provided the remaining 5 percent; the county council and commissioners voted in March to cover their $317,197 tab with Major Moves funds.

The final phase of the project, which is finishing the taxiway, will be completed later this year or early next year, Kuebler said, adding the airport board is reviewing bids for that part of the project.

At 7,000 feet, the east-west runway is the same length as the runway at Chicago's Midway Airport. During the reconstruction, pilots have had to use the smaller, north-south runway, which is 4,000 feet.

"There's always inconvenience but it's necessary to keep a safe and active environment," Kuebler said.

Chael added that the airport has been able to handle 90 percent of its usual traffic on the shorter runway and planes requiring longer landing strips were diverted to airports in Gary or South Bend.

While the east-west runway was originally constructed in 1966, Kuebler said the repaving projects since then didn't hold up the 20 years that the FAA expects, and the time between repaving kept decreasing.

Ultimately, state and FAA officials decided to go for a complete reconstruction, Kuebler said. All of the old asphalt removed for the project is being reused on-site to refurbish gravel access roads or build new ones.

"What made this project so big and expensive is we literally tore it down to gravel," Chael said. "It was crumbling from below."

The timing of the project helped, Chael added, because asphalt prices are low, which kept the price down and cheaper than it would have been a few years ago.

"We had some really good weather, hot and dry," he said. "It's not good for anything else but it's good for paving."

Original article can be found here:

San Bernardino International Airport (KSBD) Authority FBO performs well in budget review

Kathryn's Report:

The San Bernardino International Airport Authority (SBIAA) reviewed and approved the 2016-17 budget and authorized the filing of Notice of Completion for a Taxiway Improvement project.

In presenting the proposed 2016-17 SBIAA budget, Director of Aviation Mark Gibbs told the commission that in 2015-16 "the performance of the FBO (fixed based operations) has been stellar this year" as indicated by the growth in ramp activity. In January 2013 FBO ramp activity was at 124 which has grown to about 220 in May 2016.

Fuel sales also have grown in the last year with Jet-A sales more then doubling in the 2015-16 fiscal year to just under 1,400,000 gallons. The 2014-15 year saw about 600,000 gallons in sales. Nearly 110,000 gallons of AvGas was sold in 2015-16. Fuel revenue for the current fiscal year grew from less then $2,500,000 to over $3,000,000 by the end of the fiscal year.

Projected revenues for SBIAA 2016-17 budget totals $46,791,933 with $12,479,029 from the general fund, $13,565,212 from property management, $15,689,114 from capital projects, $4,168,700 from FBO and $889,878 from debt service.

The board also authorized the filing of a Notice of Completion for a taxiway project rehabilitating concrete joints throughout the airport’s taxiway system. The $1,346,620 project was funded 90 percent by a Federal Aviation Administration grant matched with five percent from a state grant and five percent from SBIAA.

The board also approved a $39,305 services agreement with Climatec, LLC to install 45 network security cameras for the international Arrival (Customs) Facility.

Original article can be found here: