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FAA News and Aviation Updates

Aviation rules and regulations are ever-changing. To help you stay in-the-know, here are some of the latest FAA and regulation headlines that pilots and fixed base operators should know about, courtesy of the May/June issue of FAA Safety Briefing.

Heads up on Temporary Flight Restrictions

Some upcoming major events that will generate Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) are the Republican National Convention, July 18 through 21 in Cleveland, and the Democratic National Convention, July 25 through 28 in Philadelphia. There will also be approximately 5,000 sporting events with accompanying TFRs in 2016.

An easy way to see those TFRs is to have an Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS-B) on your aircraft or go to http://tfr.faa.gov.

38th annual GA survey now under way

The 38th annual General Aviation and Part 135 Activity Survey (GA Survey) for reporting is now underway. The GA Survey is the FAA’s primary source of information about the size and activity of the general aviation and on-demand Part 135 fleet.

The FAA requests your participation and feedback. If you receive an invite to participate, please respond, even if you did not fly your aircraft in 2015. Your responses are kept confidential, and the information collected will be used only for statistical purposes and will not be released in any form that would reveal an individual participant.

Tetra Tech is an independent research firm that conducts the survey on behalf of the FAA. You can contact them with questions at 1-800-826-1797. Previous years’ survey results can be found at http://1.usa.gov/24QSfh7.

FAA and DHS team up on unmanned aircraft

Each month, the FAA receives more than 100 reports from pilots and others who spot what appears to be an unmanned aircraft (UAS) flying close to an airport or a manned airplane.

In an effort to better understand and track UAS and deal with a serious aviation safety concern and a potential security issue for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the FAA recently partnered with DHS and CACI International to explore how the company’s prototype detection technology may help detect UAS in the vicinity of airports. The main goal of the partnership is to safely explore procedures and processes for deploying and operating detection technologies in and around commercial airports.

From January 25 to February 2, the CACI system was evaluated at Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), the first UAS detection research in a commercial airport environment. A total of 141 operations were executed over five days — 72 with a UAS on the ground and 69 with different small UAS in flight. In the coming months, engineers from the FAA, DHS, CACI and the University of Maryland will work together to compile the data for a final report by August 2016.

These research efforts also may contribute to keeping the skies safe from people who want to use unmanned aircraft for malicious purposes. To that end, the agency signed a Memorandum of Understanding with DHS to collaborate on the safe integration of UAS into the U.S. aviation system.

FAA issues new rule regarding new pilot applications

The process by which student pilots apply for, obtain, and carry a plastic pilot certificate to exercise the privileges of the pilot certificate has changed, per new FAA rules.

The FAA also modified the process by which student pilots apply for a certificate; they must now apply in person at a Flight Standards District Office, through a Designated Pilot Examiner, with an airman certification representative associated with a part 141 pilot school, or with a CFI.

Student pilots who currently have a paper student pilot certificate may continue to use it, or can request a plastic replacement for $2. The plastic certificates will not expire, which will give the student unlimited time to complete training without having to apply for another student pilot certificate. For more information on the rule, which became effective April 1, 2016, go to https://federalregister.gov/a/2016-00199.

NTSB issues safety alert for fly-in events

Major fly-in events pose unique challenges including high-density traffic, special flight and communication procedures, a rapidly changing environment, and changes to air traffic control separation standards.

To improve safety in this scenario, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued aviation safety alert earlier this year highlighting aviation safety issues pilots may face arriving at major fly-in events. Pilots planning on flying in to events this summer should review the alert.

The safety alert provides pilots guidance for dealing with the challenges of major fly-in events and stresses the need for them to review FAA Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) at www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/notices/

SA-053, along with other NTSB safety alerts can be found online at NTSB Safety Alerts.

The Use of Hangars for Non-Aviation Purposes

The FAA issued its final policy in the Federal Register this June on the use of non-aeronautical airport hangars. It will take effect on July 1, 2017. To clarify how federal funds can be used for aviation and non-aviation purposes at airport facilities, including hangars, the FAA struck a balance ensuring hangars are available when there is an aviation need, but when demand is low, airports will allow hangars to be used for non-aviation activities.

The FAA requires airport sponsors to get approval prior to hangars being used for non-aviation purposes while at the same time recognizing that rentals of non-aviation hangar space will allow airport sponsors to be “economically independent” when hangars are not being used.

The FAA also clarified the types of aircraft that can be built in a hangar, the equipment that needs to be used, what items can be stored in hangars, and policies on how the sponsors can receive fair market value for hangar rental space.

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