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The Latest FAA News and Safety Reminders

Pilots and staff at FBOs are busy people, but it’s important to stay up on the latest FAA news and safety regulations. To make your life a little easier, here are some of the headlines and highlights of the past few months.

FAA recommends pilots keep transponders “on.”

Many pilots may switch their transponder to standby (STBY) mode when taxiing, but following 2012 changes to the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), the FAA now recommends pilots activate their transponders prior to moving at an airport.

The FAA updated AIM section 4-1-20, paragraph 3:

Civil and military transponders should be turned to the “on” or normal altitude reporting position [ALT] prior to moving on the airport surface to ensure the aircraft is visible to ATC surveillance systems. In all cases, while in controlled airspace each pilot operating an aircraft equipped with an operable ATC transponder maintained in accordance with 14 CFR section 91.413 must operate the transponder, including Mode C if installed, on the appropriate code or as assigned by ATC. In Class G airspace, the transponder should be operating while airborne unless otherwise requested by ATC.

Also of note is paragraph 7, which states: “Aircraft equipped with ADS−B (1090 ES or UAT) must operate the equipment in the transmit mode (on position) at all times while on any airport surface.” Pilots using aircraft equipped with modern transponders, or those that have transponders integrated with the navigation system, will need to pay extra attention to transponder operations and to what mode is selected. These systems often have automatic features based on airspeed that control the transponder settings. You’ll want to override or reconfigure the settings to make sure the transponder is in the “on” or ALT setting while taxiing and not in STBY mode.

FAA to fund $40 million to study alternative jet fuels

On September 13, the FAA announced that it will award $40 million to help support a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence that will study alternative jet fuels, new aircraft technologies, and the environment.

Washington State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will lead the Center of Excellence, but they’ll be joined by at least 14 other universities. The FAA noted that all of the universities have “nationally recognized” environmental and aviation-related programs.

The center will explore ways to meet the environmental goals for noise, air quality, climate change and energy under the Next Generation Air Transportation System.

The FAA expects to fund about half of the $80 million in total research costs of the center over 10 years. The rest of the funds will come from academia and industry.

The FAA has established other Centers of Excellence with more than 75 universities in nine other areas, including commercial space transportation, aircraft noise and emissions mitigation and airport pavement and technology.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement, “This innovative partnership supports President Obama’s national plan to address climate change. Airlines and their customers will both benefit from their work developing cleaner fuel that supports the environment and continued aviation growth.”

Reminder to complete your annual General Aviation and Part 135 Activity survey

In early June 2013, the FAA sent invitations for participation in its 35th annual General Aviation and Part 135 Activity Survey. Since that time, reminders have been sent to invitees and the survey will be closing soon. The FAA encourages all operators who have received a survey invitation to complete the survey.

According to the FAA, accurate representation and full participation benefits the entire industry. Accurate survey data is critical in developing the FAA’s accident statistics for general aviation and on-demand charter operations. This data also is used for FAA planning and forecasting purposes.

The FAA’s annual GA Survey is the only source of information on the general aviation fleet, the number of hours flown, and the ways people use GA aircraft. The data helps determine funding for infrastructure and service needs, assess the impact of regulatory changes, and measure aviation safety. The GA Survey is also used to prepare safety statistics and calculate the rate of accidents among general aviation aircraft.

Submission of the form is voluntary. The information obtained will only be used for statistical purposes, and will be kept private to the extent permitted by law. FAA will not publish any reports or tables that would reveal specific information reported by an individually identifiable respondent.

The FAA has contracted with Tetra Tech, an independent research firm, to conduct the survey. You may address questions about this survey to Tetra Tech by calling 1-800-826-1797 or by e-mailing If you have three or more aircraft being surveyed, please contact them about completing an abbreviated survey which allows you to respond on behalf of all your aircraft in one short form.

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