Monthly Archives: September 2016

New Runway Takeoff & Landing Performance Assessment Starts October 1

matrixWhen the weather is not sunny, dry, and clear, pilots preparing to takeoff or land need to know what condition the runway is in. To improve these reports, the FAA and aviation community have developed new standards to improve safety during inclement weather. Airports will begin using the new Takeoff and Landing Performance Assessment (TALPA) standards on October 1, 2016.

The new standards communicate runway conditions in terms directly related to their affect on aircraft performance. Airport operators will employ the Runway Condition Assessment Matrix (RCAM) to report runway conditions. The matrix is a standardized format that is based on aircraft performance data supplied by the airframe manufacturers for the type and depth of each runway contaminant.

The new standards replace subjective judgments of runway conditions that are now reported with a Mu number that describes a coefficient of braking friction. Using the FAA example of this system, a runway covered with 2 inches of dry snow would be reported as: “FICON 2IN DRY SN OBSERVED AT 1601010139. 1601010151-1601020145” along with Mu values as “TAP MU 29/27/29 OBSERVED AT 1601010139. 1601010151-1601020145.

Starting October 1, these conditions would be reported this way: DEN RWY 17R FICON (5/5/3) 25 PRCT 1/8 IN DRY SN, 25 PRCT 1/8 IN DRY SN, 50 PRCT 2 IN DRY SN OBSERVED AT 1601010139. 1601010151-1601020145. With this information, pilots would then consult the aircraft flight manual to determine what performance they can expect from their airplane. Note that the numerical Runway Condition Codes, based on the RCAM, subdivide the runway into three segments when the contaminants vary.

Airport operators will assess the runway surfaces, report the contaminants, and use the RCAM to determine the Runway Condition Code. The same code can cover the entire runway when there is no variation in the contaminant. These codes will replace Mu numbers, which the NOTAM system will no longer use.

This does not mean pilots should stop reporting braking action. They will still be used and shared. However, the terminology used in these reports will change on October 1. “Medium” will replace the “Fair” braking action assessment. And airports will no longer be able to report a “NIL” braking action condition. Under the new system, NIL conditions require airports to close that surface until they are satisfied that the NIL braking conditions no longer exist.

Chicago Exec urges aircraft operators to review the appropriate performance sections of the aircraft flight manuals for their airplanes and develop procedures that will enable them to take full advantage of the new runway condition reports. For more information, see Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) 16009.

Runway Construction Season Ends

It’s Been a Long, Hot Construction Summer

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The principal construction for the Runway 16/34 Rehabilitation Project has been completed and all runways and taxiways are open again.

While the trucks have all pretty much disappeared, there are still a few items not quite back to normal that everyone needs to know about.

Outstanding

The FAA requires a flight check before they’ll allow the runway 16 ILS to be recommssioned. The tentative date is early October, but we’ll post a precise date for your planning purposes as soon as we can.  The Land and Hold Short Lights on runway 16 will remain out of service briefly until they are recalibrated. All PAPIs are back in operation as well.

The Illinois Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Division is also trying to schedule their post-construction inspection of the new runway. We don’t anticipate any issues, but there is always the chance the the IDOT folks might see something that requires a bit of corrective action. 

The Facts, Just the Facts

Because he amount of materials needed for a project of this size is always greater than anyone imagines, we wanted to share with you a few runway construction facts.

Seven different contractors teamed up to create the new runway surface. The initial work began when 20,000 tons asphalt milled and hauled off. The new surface added back some 21,500 tons of new asphalt. They used 150,000 sq. ft. of temporary marking paint, but only 130,000 sq. ft. of permanent paint. 

Construction efforts created 75,500 sq. yds. of new grooving and added 50 new runway lights. The lights demanded the installation of 20,000 sq. ft. of new cable. Finally, crews graded down three acres of shoulder area.

The Low Down on Drones That Every Operator Needs to Know

Phantom 3Part 107 Drone Rule is Here

In case you missed the news, the FAA last week made Part 107, governing the commercial use of drones, the law of the land. Part 107, containing the operational and safety rules for drones, is expected to make it easier to organize and certify the pilots who operate them. From this point forward, commercial drone operators must possess a special-issue remote pilot operator certificate to fly an unmanned aerial system (UAS) weighing less than 55 pounds. UAS is the FAA’s term, for what the rest of us have been calling drones.

Hobbyist operators – people who will not be paid for flying – are not required to be licensed, although they are still expected to understand the operational guidelines that apply to that segment, such as a prohibition against any flights within 5 miles of an airport, no flights above 400 feet AGL and no flying over crowds of people such as at public events. The agency organized hobbyist guidelines for distribution here, Fly for Fun.

For commercial operators, Part 107 eliminates the need to file a time-consuming waiver application before each and every flight operation. One major exception to that rule is also flight within 5 miles of an airport. Even for commercially licensed drone pilots, this kind of flying is prohibited, until the operator receives a waiver from the FAA specifically approving the work.

Becoming a Remote Pilot Operator

There are two paths to licensing, one if the operator has never held a pilot certificate and another for airmen that already possess an active pilot certificate. Newcomers, who are at least 16 years of age, should expect some studying in order to pass an FAA Knowledge Exam administered at a local testing center at a cost of about $150. Following that test, a TSA background check is required before the certificate’s issued.

Current pilots proceed along a different path, being required to complete the FAA’s Part 107 UAS online training course and an identity check before they’ll see a temporary airmen certificate. Licensed pilots may be a bit surprised to learn their new certificate will not be tacked on their current one and will also carry a new number specific to the “Remote Pilot” certificate.

A Little Help From Your Friends

Despite the issuance of Part 107, many drone operators and potential operators are bound to have questions about what they can and should do to operate within federal guidelines and remain safely separated from manned aircraft.IMG_1189 2

On September 12, Chicago Executive airport is pleased to help in that quest for knowledge by working with Vortex UAS and Atlantic Aviation to present an hour-long session on the basics of operating a drone both commercially and as a hobbyist.

The session begins at 7 PM at Atlantic Aviation’s hangar, 1011 S. Wolf Rd and is offered free of charge to anyone interested in drones. In order to be sure there’s room for everyone, pre-registration is required.

More information on the Sept. 12 event is available via e-mail at rmark@chiexec.com or by calling the airport’s communications coordinator, Rob Mark at 847-537-2580, ext. 117.