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RAA 2014: FAA chief cites industry contribution to safety

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta opened the General Sessions at this year’s RAA 39th Annual Convention touting the progress that has been made in establishing an enviable record of safety and laying a solid foundation for NexGen technology that will revolutionise air traffic management.

Huerta credited the co-operation between the industry and the FAA with collecting data that can be used to assess safety risks and decrease accidents to what he described as “incredibly low rates”.

The voluntary Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) encourages pilots to identify and report perceived safety violations and potential threats to safety. The data can be used to analyse and make recommendations for needed changes.

NexGen will switch air traffic control to a satellite-based system that will replace the current radar system. The Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADSB) will transmit aircraft locations faster than radar and provides broader surveillance beyond the reach of radar.

A key initiative is ERAM (En Route Automation Modernization), a system which is being used by 18 of 20 en route centres that handle high altitude traffic. By next March, all 20 centres are expected to be using ERAM to control air traffic rather than the decades old legacy system.

Recent FAA changes that requires 1,500 hours of flight time and an ATP licence to fly a commercial aircraft has roiled the industry as it faces a pilot shortage. But Huerta defended the initiative, which went into place last year, noting it was aimed at improving overall safety. “We need to continue to raise the bar on safety,” Huerta emphasised.

Sandra Arnoult, US correspondent, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net
St Louis, Missouri, USA

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