NBAA’s Practical Advice to Business Aviation shows how Sequestration’s Challenges should be Met; the FAA should be doing the same for Safety!

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ARTICLE: Operating Into a Non-Towered Airport? Tips and Tools Are Available


Loud lamentations and plentiful petitions have been the standard fare by aviation groups in response to the FAA’s announcement that Contract Towers will be closed in response to sequestration’s 5% budget reduction mandate. The FAA’s assertion that the Congress made me do it and the absence of a well-crafted FAA rational why these airports are being 100% closed are catalysts for like kind complaints from industry, instead of constructive advice.

In contrast to the “attack” mode of others, NBAA has issued a very useful Tips and Tools Bulletin. To put the advisory in a calm context, NBAA’s Director of Air Traffic and Infrastructure, Bob Lamond said: “These are skills that all business aircraft pilots should be familiar with, but now will have to be applied at locations with newly closed control towers.”

Among the tips are the following practical suggestions as how to be best prepared to operate safely in this challenging environment:

  • have the necessary charts available in the cockpit for reference – including a VFR sectional chart – as well as airport diagrams for taxi instructions. They should also check notices to airmen (NOTAMs);
  • crews should also make a point to keep their eyes outside the cockpit in order to see and avoid other traffic, and monitor the radio to help ascertain the positions of other aircraft in the vicinity;
  • most of the Class D towers facing closure did not provide separation services, merely advisories, so pilots were still responsible for maintaining separation from other traffic;
  • when departing from a non-towered field, pilots should also be prepared for the additional time it may take to receive an IFR clearance from center controllers, and the potential for delays in release times;
  • NBAA pointed to several important sources of information:

FAA Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC)
FAA ATCSCC – EDCTAeronautical Information Manual (AIM)
FAA Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge – Chapter 13 Airport Operations
AOPA Air Safety Institute guide to Operations at Non-towered Airports
Midair Collisions: The Myth and the Math (originally published in Aviation Safety Magazine)

The Operations and Air Traffic Departments at NBAA are major strengths of that association. This thoughtful, positive compendium of tactics that will minimize the risks of sequestration is a prime example of those groups’ excellence and responsiveness to the needs of their members.

The NBAA dues are reasonable and such service shows that the staff is committed to producing great value for the price!

Wouldn’t it be helpful if the US governmental agencies responsible for aviation safety would produce similar advisory materials?

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