Alaskan Aviation Safety needs all the enhancements that are around- NTSB why wait?

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Alaska Aviation Safety has been a concern for years

FAA, at NTSB’s suggestion, completed Alaskan Aviation Safety initiative- 5 efforts cited, 1 started

From a 2020 crash investigtion NTSB points to better aircraft position communications- dedicated frequencies- after close of FAASI


On February 22, 2022, the NTSB issued safety recommendations (see below for longer article)  based on a 2020 accident investigation for which the Board had yet issued a probable cause. Their analysis of the facts of this fatal mid air collision caused the safety board to urge the FAA to require AK pilots flying in common air traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) areas to monitor and communicate their position while flying in these uncontrolled airspaces and the FAA to consolidate the CATF frequencies for geographical areas of common risk.

Great safety improvements, but why were they issued just recently?


Aviation safety is never stagnant; the regulators and every participant in this industry must be constantly vigilant to identify and rectify risks. These basic concepts are even more applicable to flight in Alaska. The 49th state has an abysmal safety record, even though the FAA, the NTSB and every segment of  its aviation have been focusing on this unacceptable problem for years.

Based on an NTSB 2019 Roundtable, the FAA initiated an Alaska Aviation Safety Initiative (FAASI).  Then the agency hosted 12 virtual meetings with aviation stakeholders — including pilots, trade associations, airports and state officials — to get their feedback on current and planned safety efforts in Alaska. The FAASI team published an interim report for which it received further comments from all stakeholders. Then on Thursday, , a final Report was issued and it Recommended 5 initiatives to increase Alaskan Aviation Safety –

  • Install Automated Weather Observing Systems (AWOS) at airports that don’t have them and where the systems would have the biggest safety benefit, and continue testing a new technology called Visual Weather Observation System (VWOS).
  • Develop a comprehensive Alaska airspace navigation strategy, including creating lower-altitude flight routes and improving GPS backup systems.
  • Continue a collaborative working group initiative in partnership with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association that’s verifying and adding mountain pass information on aeronautical charts, and continue to hold FAA bi-annual charting meetings, allocating time for Alaska-specific discussions.
  • Continue efforts to expand ADS-B services to areas that don’t have it, and continue outreach efforts to encourage operators to equip their aircraft with ADS-B.
  • Continue existing safety outreach programs and look for new opportunities where different FAA divisions could work together to address safety issues from multiple perspectives.

The FAA document assigns the offices responsible for implementation, has timelines and establishes follow-ups.

awos IN AK

To demonstrate its commitment, on March 1, 2022, the FAA started installing technology across Alaska to provide weather conditions to pilots before they take to the skies. 

Eight new Automated Weather Observing Systems (AWOS) will provide continuous, real-time and accurate weather information on remote areas of Alaska. The sites, recommended by the Alaska aviation community, should be operational by October 2022.

“We heard from the Alaska aviation community that they need more real-time weather information to operate safely, and we are delivering on the commitment we made to provide that,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.

The CTAF  RECOMENDATIONS issued by the Board on February 22, 2022, must have been observed sometime in the past two years since the Soldotna investigation, most likely before the FAASI was issued on October 14, 2021, and possibly before the Interim Report was circulated.AK CATF MAP


Aviation Safety is a continuous process of identifying risks and implementing solutions; so, these CATF enhancements will be implemented, but why wait so long?




NTSB issues safety recommendations after 2020 midair collision near Soldotna

By Mark Thiessen, Associated Press


A federal agency tasked with investigating plane crashes is recommending that all pilots be required to communicate their positions on a designated radio frequency when entering and exiting areas not controlled by air traffic control towers throughout Alaska.

The recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration are included in a report from the National Transportation Safety Board following a midair collision that killed seven people, including an Alaska state lawmaker, near Soldotna on July 31, 2020. The report was dated Feb. 22, and published Friday.

21 airports within a 30-mile radius of Soldotna with

In the 2020 crash, the two planes collided just over 2 miles from the Soldotna Airport, which does not have an air traffic control tower. Aircraft in the area are supposed to monitor traffic on a set frequency.

Though there are 21 airports within a 30-mile radius of Soldotna with five different communication frequencies, a post-accident check of both planes could not determine whichNTSB RECOMMENDATIONS frequency each was monitoring.

“Because both airplanes were operating in uncontrolled airspace, it was the responsibility of both pilots to visually acquire aircraft flying in their vicinity and maintain separation from them,” the report said.

The NTSB has not released a probable cause report in this crash.

“Safety recommendations are typically released at the conclusion of an investigation but every year the NTSB issues recommendations prior to that point,” NTSB spokesperson Peter Knudson said in an email to The Associated Press.



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