We Are Proud of Our Team!

We are extremely proud to announce that the Cincinnati Municipal Airport FCT has been named the 2018 Willie F. Card Contract Tower Service Award winner! Air Traffic Manager, Andy Reynolds and his team have consistently and solidly represented the facility, the airport and Midwest ATC. Great job, Team!

Westmoreland air show will feature Pearl Harbor simulation

Arnold Palmer Regional Airport will recall the “date which will live in infamy” — the Pearl Harbor attack that brought the United States into World War II — when it hosts performances by the Texas-based Commemorative Air Force during the 2019 Shop ‘n Save Westmoreland County Airshow.

The show will be Memorial Day weekend, May 25-26, at the Unity airport.

Combining a simulated aerial attack by replica Japanese warplanes with explosive effects on the ground, the “Tora! Tora! Tora!” program will return to the local air show for the first time since 1983.

“This is something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” said Gabe Monzo, executive director of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority, which operates the airport. “We were just never able to get the scheduling to work out. But this time it just clicked, and it’s going to be amazing.”

The program based on the pivotal Dec. 7, 1941, attack began in 1972, with six replica Japanese aircraft that had been used in filming the eponymous war movie.

Most of the aircraft are trainer planes that were modified to resemble Japanese “Zero” attack planes or bombers, according to program spokesman Bill Mount.

To accompanying narration, “aircraft will be flying overhead in multiple patterns,” he said. “You have fighter aircraft, torpedo bombers and dive bombers all criss-crossing and occupying the same space.”

More than 60 pyrotechnic effects will simulate machine gun fire, bombs and torpedoes. “The finale is a wall of fire,” Mount said.

“It’s a 1,000-foot wall of fire. You’ll feel the heat,” Monzo promised. “It’s truly a spectacle.”

“It’s going to be quite a different air show,” said Don Rossi, chairman of the county airport authority.

A vintage B-17 bomber also will take part in the program.

The performance is presented as a living history lesson meant to honor soldiers on both sides of the conflict who gave their lives for their countries.

“We’re honoring the people that let us live the life we’re living now,” Rossi said of America’s World War II forces.

A memorial service is being planned for the second day of the air show.

VIP tickets for the show cost $150 for adults or $50 for ages 6-12 accompanied by an adult. They will be available at palmerairport.com beginning Dec. 1.

The VIP ticket includes free parking, cart and limousine service to a VIP tent, an air-conditioned private rest room, a commemorative program and food and soft drinks.

General admission tickets will go on sale in February at $25. The tickets will be available for $15 at Shop ‘n Save supermarkets.

This year’s air show was held July 28-29.

or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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Why airlines are happy settling for stability after high hopes at start of Trump administration

by Conor Shine and Tom Benning

Dallas News: Oct 8, 2018

On Feb. 9, 2017, CEOs from the country’s largest airlines met with President Donald Trump at the White House, optimistic about advancing several of their priorities — from air traffic control reform to cracking down on unfair foreign competition — under the new administration.

Twenty months later, with Congress putting the finishing touches last week on a sweeping aviation policy and spending bill, airlines’ lofty aspirations have largely been grounded.

The bipartisan five-year bill’s defining feature is the stability and consistency it will provide to the aviation industry after years of repeated short-term extensions that accomplished little beyond keeping the lights on at the Federal Aviation Administration and other federal agencies like the Transportation Security Administration.

“This provides five years of stable funding and the ability for the administration to really invest in its programs without concern about the next reauthorization bill,” said Paul Lewis, vice president of policy at the nonprofit Eno Center for Transportation. “In terms of policy, there are a few changes, but nothing super-dramatic.”

The result is a muted victory, one that stands in contrast to the major wins scored by the oil and gas business, the telecom sector and other industries amid a deregulatory gusher opened by Trump.

While the legislation failed to advance the airline industry’s long-held goal of spinning off the country’s air traffic control system from the FAA into a private, nonprofit corporation, several other provisions loathed by airline executives didn’t make it into the final bill.

Those included a call to regulate fees for things like checked bags and seat assignments, as well as a push to increase the cap on airport fees used to fund construction. In their place are a number of smaller changes, covering issues from pets to cellphone calls to airplane seat sizes.

It’s not the dramatic action that, just last year, seemed to have the political winds at its back.

“I’m disappointed that with a Republican Congress and a Republican administration, we didn’t make better progress with the FAA reform,” Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said recently, referring to the air traffic control privatization push.

Carriers haven’t come up totally empty-handed in the Trump era, as they have joined other businesses in enjoying steep tax cuts passed last year.

Airlines have also praised the Trump administration for brokering an agreement calling for more transparency from three Middle Eastern carriers that some U.S. airlines have said receive unfair subsidies from their home countries. But even that success has been limited in scope, with American Airlines CEO Doug Parker suggesting last month that one of the carriers was already “cheating” on the non-binding agreement.

Airlines in D.C.

Mere passage of an FAA reauthorization bill, which was signed into law by Trump on Friday, is also no small achievement.

The legislation has drawn broad support from across the aviation industry, including commercial airlines, their employees, general aviation operators and safety groups. Even consumer watchdogs found things to like in the final package, despite their calls for further passenger protections.

The new rules prohibit putting pets in overhead bins, ban cellphone calls in the cabin and prod the FAA to set minimum sizes for seats. The bill also touches on broader aviation issues, including continued work on integrating unmanned drones into the national airspace.

Five key elements of the FAA bill

  1. It orders the FAA to establish minimum airplane seat sizes.
  2. It prods the feds to create “reasonable” rules to ensure fliers aren’t improperly classifying their pets as “service animals.”
  3. It prevents airlines from bumping already-boarded passengers to accommodate other fliers.
  4. It ensures that flight attendants get at least 10 hours of rest between their shifts.
  5. It makes it illegal to put an animal in a plane’s overhead bin.

Source: House Transportation Committee.

The bill’s overall shape shows the aviation sector is a serious player in Washington. It’s spent more than $46 million on lobbying and nearly $7 million on political action committee donations to candidates so far this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But the months spent playing defense against various proposals to re-regulate aspects of the industry, and the fact that their top priority of air traffic control reform failed to get a floor vote  in the House or Senate, highlight the challenges airlines and their lobbyists face on Capitol Hill.

Original article can be viewed at:


Kandahar World’s Busiest Single Runway Airport

Originally Published by Av.Stop.com

This is an article from several years ago that demonstrates how our Midwest ATC team gets the job done!

September 10, 2009, With the increase in forces in southern Afghanistan, Kandahar Airfield has become the busiest single-runway airport in the world.

Peaking in late May at an estimated 5,500 flights per week, the airfield has maintained more than 5,000 flights per week through June and July, said Col. Bill Buckey, the airfield’s operations officer, a Marine augmented to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.

Previously, the busiest single-runway airport in the world was the London Gatwick Airport, averaging around 5,000 flights per week.

Marine Attack Squadron 214 “Black Sheep” and Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 Detachment A, both with Marine Aircraft Group 40, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan, are the only Marine aviation units solely based here.

Controlling the heavy amount of air traffic is Midwest Air Traffic Control, a contracted company from Kansas City, Mo., said Buckey, who is serving a six-month tour in Afghanistan’s second-largest city.

“This is the first time NATO has ever owned a base this big. It’s really amazing how everyone is cooperating. I’m pretty impressed,” said Buckey, a native of Sacramento, Calif.

The total flights at Kandahar are also higher than some of the busiest airports in the world per runway.

London Heathrow Airport averages 4,600 flights per runway per week and Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris averages 2,700 flights per runway per week.

The numbers are skewed because unlike civilian airports, Kandahar has military fixed and rotary wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles as well as civilian flights and light civil aircraft, said Buckey, who is also a trained F/A-18 Hornet pilot.

As operations in southern Afghanistan continue, the tempo for Kandahar Airfield will continue in order to provide aerial support to the International Security Assistance Force’s counterinsurgency mission.

Time Beginning To Run Short for Long-term FAA Bill

by Kerry Lynch – August 27, 2018, 10:12 AM AIN Online

As time begins to run out on the FAA’s current authorization, prospects are increasing that Congress will pass another short-term extension with action on a full bill put off until after the November elections. The agency is currently operating on a short-term extension that runs through the end of September.

The House passed its comprehensive five-year bill in April, but the Senate has yet to bring its version to the floor for a vote. Senate Republican leaders still are hopeful to begin consideration of the bill shortly; Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota) said last week that he is not yet planning for an extension, according to Washington insider publication Politico.

The Senate for weeks has been wading through possible amendments that could be added to the bill and is believed to be close, maybe down to the last dozen. With a limit on the number of amendments, lawmakers are anticipating that the FAA bill could be completed in as little as a day on the Senate floor.

But with just a little more than a month left, finding that day is becoming more problematic, industry sources fear, particularly with numerous nominations, including to the U.S. Supreme Court, before the Senate and funding bills yet to be completed.

Even if the Senate were to take up its version of the bill, it would still need to be reconciled with the House version and return to both chambers for a vote.

Earlier this month 33 aviation organizations urged Senate leaders to take action soon, calling passage of a long-term bill essential to maintaining the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) has also stressed a need for Senate action short-term.

Most agree that the prospects for final passage remain strong. The bill has wide support in the Senate, and most controversial issues have been ironed out. Also, the Senate leadership has acknowledged the need for passage of a long-term bill. But the question remains whether that can happen in the next month.


The role of automation in air traffic control

by Joe Baker

A wave of automated technologies is helping make air traffic control operations safer and more efficient, but how exactly do these technologies work?

Automation is hardly a new concept for the aviation industry. For several years, on-board datalink systems have transmitted aircraft information to ground control centres, while autopilot is routinely used to direct flights. Singapore’s Changi Airport recently pumped investment into automation at its newly opened Terminal 4, which features so many ‘do-it-yourself’ systems for passengers that human employees are now an unexpected sight.

In the world of air traffic control (ATC), a series of automated solutions are deployed to provide controllers with more accurate information earlier, help increase visibility at airports, and enhance communications with pilots. Communication, navigation and surveillance tools help ATC controllers to fulfil their primary responsibility of preventing collisions between aircraft.

Nevertheless, as these tools become more and more vital to safety and increased efficiency, the industry is asking questions about the controller’s role and how this is both positively and negatively impacted by the increasing role of automation.

Enhancing visibility for controllers

UK air navigation services provider NATS tracks and controls aircraft moving through airspaces across more than 30 countries worldwide, including 14 airports in Britain. With the number of flights handled increasing exponentially every year, the pressure is also rising for controllers. This creates a higher potential for human error and makes the role of automated assistance even more important.

“If you’ve got a very high workload, then you are more likely to make a mistake, miss information or do something that you shouldn’t do,” says NATS head of human factors Neil May. “Equally, if you’ve got a very low workload, the chances of you making a mistake are higher. So what we try and do is keep the workload within appropriate bounds.”

May cites visibility as an area where automation systems currently provide a major boost. An ATC tower window serves as the main source of information to controllers while they give clearances to aircraft landing, taking off, or taxiing to and from the stand. Nevertheless, obstacles such as hangars and stands, poor weather conditions, and runways that stretch into the horizon can make their job more difficult.

Controllers therefore use radar displays to supplement their awareness. Automated warnings, such as those provided by a short-term conflict alert system, let the controller know automatically if an aircraft or vehicle is attempting to enter a runway when it is already occupied.

However, the introduction of remote digital towers – already seen at the UK’s London City and Singapore’s Changi airports – is helping to further enhance visibility. Airports can now erect camera masts and microphones that transmit data to a separate control centre, which can sometimes be hundreds of miles away. Once the view of the airfield is stitched back together in the form of a live image, this can be augmented with operational data such as radar tags, which can be placed on individual aircraft and show the location of closed taxiways.

May says that control tower assistants, which currently carry out a number of roles, could also have their workload reduced by automation. For example, assistants at London Heathrow operate runway lighting panels at night to taxi aircraft – a role that requires constant vigilance to ensure that aircraft don’t head down the same taxiway at once. An automated system, May adds, could help work out the best possible routes for aircraft at night.

“That will provide us with efficiency benefits because we can use that system to work out more accurately how long it takes an aircraft to taxi from stands to holding points,” he says. “There are going to be environmental benefits from doing that, because it means that aircraft will have their engines running for shorter times.”

Speeding up ATC operations

In the past, commercial aircraft passing through the majority of airports would be tracked by flight progress strips containing vital information about each aircraft, including call signs, speed, altitude and destinations. However, these strips are steadily bowing out in light of more digital tracking methods.

In the UK, NATS has been steadily deploying its extended computer display system (ECDS), which recreates the strips used by controllers in an electronic format. While moving aircraft from one airspace to another used to require a telephone conversation, this process is now automated, reducing workload and increasing capacity.

In March 2015, London Heathrow became the first airport in the UK to start using time-based separation procedures for aircraft, which are usually required to fly a certain distance apart. With the new system, computer-generated indicators are projected onto a radar during an aircraft’s final approach to provide controllers with better guidance on minimum separation limits during strong headwinds.

“The benefit is that we can get more aircraft landing in a certain amount of time than we were previously when we were limited by the distance between the two aircraft,” says May. “This means that there are less delays and cancellations for passengers and the airport can continue to run very close to normal, even in high-wind situations.”

Separation methods also form part of the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) NextGen programme. The FAA is currently deploying two main automation systems across its ATC centres, including the Standard Terminal Automation and Replacement System (STARS) and En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM).

Currently operational at control centres near some of the US’s biggest airports, STARS offers enhanced tracking of aircraft through automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast systems, as well as a data block feature that automatically lists the number of aircraft in airspaces.

“I think what you see now is the first time we’ve actually got the wherewithal to integrate decisions that are not just local but they can have implications regionally,” says Steve Bradford, chief scientist for architecture and NextGen development at the FAA.

Risk of automation in ATC

While automation is already providing operational benefits for controllers, any move to introduce further automation comes with its risks. May says that one of the biggest problems with automation is that it can fail, and it’s therefore necessary for the system to make clear to operators when it has malfunctioned (and for controllers to recognise when this has happened).

Launching new systems is a case of ensuring controllers are trained properly to use it, and that safety nets are in place if things go wrong. For remote digital towers, May says that NATS ensures that there is dual and triple redundancy in everything it does, and that there are multiple camera systems and methods for data to enter the control room.

“If you’re going to give the controller information to use, we need to train them on how to use and manipulate [this] information,” says Bradford. “We can apply the software more quickly than we do, but we take the time to train facilities [to use them].”

Could air traffic controllers be replaced by automated systems altogether one day? Both experts say that although the systems are proven to increase efficiency, for the next 20 years at least, humans will remain in charge.

“I think we can reduce the load on the controller and perhaps makes things more efficient but we’ll always have controllers,” says Bradford.

Article Originally Posted on:


June 27, 2018

The FAA on June 27 published a final rule that will allow broader use of technology to reduce the cost of flight training and maintaining proficiency without compromising safety. For years, AOPA has sought and supported these regulatory changes that are expected to save the general aviation community more than $110 million in the next five years.

AOPA has made it a priority to ease the financial burden on students and certificated pilots, and many of the changes made by the FAA that are incorporated in the final version were requested by AOPA and other aviation groups. The FAA’s final rule includes many changes, particularly to Part 61, which were originally published in a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in 2016.

The Part 61 overhaul will take effect July 27, with all changes implemented by Dec. 24, and will reduce costs to pilots in large part by leveraging advances in avionics, aircraft equipment, flight simulators, and aviation training devices. The new regulations recognize the effectiveness of modern technology and ease past restrictions on its use to further reduce the cost of flight training, as well as proficiency maintenance. They are also crafted to give the FAA more flexibility to approve the use of advanced technologies still to come.

The FAA estimates that pilots and operators will save up to $113.5 million over five years (in 2016 dollars), with the most significant savings to come from allowing instrument-rated pilots, who use advanced aviation training devices (ATDs) to satisfy flight experience requirements, to enjoy six months of currency rather than two. That part of the Part 61 overhaul takes effect Nov. 26. The extended currency interval will also allow instrument-rated pilots to use any combination of aircraft and ATD to accomplish the flight experience required for currency. The FAA estimates (in 2016 dollars) that these changes to FAR 61.57(c) alone will save pilots $76.1 million over five years.

Allowing sport pilots to credit their flight experience toward higher certificates and ratings will increase the value of sport pilot training and save pilots an estimated $14 million over five years. Eliminating the requirement for an instructor to be present while instrument-rated pilots use flight simulators and ATDs to satisfy currency requirements is estimated to save the instrument pilot population another $12.5 million over five years.

In April, the FAA discontinued the requirement that commercial pilot and flight instructor candidates conduct their single-engine airplane practical test in a complex airplane, and the final rule published June 27 takes that a step further. As of Aug. 27, commercial pilot candidates can use “technically advanced airplanes” in lieu of, or in combination with, a complex or turbine-powered airplane to satisfy the 10 hours of required training in these airplanes. This is estimated to save trainees $2.8 million over five years.

“Making aviation less costly is fundamental to AOPA’s mission, which is why we pursued these changes that will save the general aviation community more than $100 million over the next five years alone and help to make pursuing and advancing a pilot’s certificate more accessible to everyone,” said AOPA President Mark Baker.

The FAA, responding to industry comments on the NPRM, also adjusted the definition of “technically advanced airplane” to be broader and more general, adding language to Section 61.129(j) to allow the FAA to authorize use of aircraft that may not meet the requirements as presently written. “This additional language is intended to provide flexibility by allowing the FAA to accommodate future technologies that do not necessarily meet the confines of the regulatory requirements for a TAA in § 61.129(j),” the FAA wrote in the final rule.

Another of the many changes detailed in the lengthy final rule will allow sport pilot instructors with a required endorsement to provide training on control and maneuvering solely be reference to instruments. While the FAA estimates “minimal” cost savings to students, the change will nonetheless increase the value of the sport pilot instructor’s certificate, and benefit flight schools that offer sport pilot training, as well as instructors and students.

AOPA Director of Regulatory Affairs Justin Barkowski led the association’s effort to analyze and respond to the NPRM that preceded the final rule. Among the points successfully pushed, pilots will be allowed to use a combination of complex, turbine-powered, and technically advanced airplanes to satisfy the 10-hour commercial pilot training requirement, instead of having to choose one of the three. Sport pilot instructors will be allowed to receive the required flight training hours in an ATD in order to obtain the endorsement required to teach instrument skills.

Barkowski said he expects the final rule to prompt discussion of what, exactly, a technically advanced aircraft is, and noted that the FAA drafted the final rule to accommodate advances in technology.

“Generally speaking, aircraft equipped with an electronic primary flight display (PFD) and multifunction display (MFD), as well as a two-axis autopilot, would qualify as a TAA,” Barkowski noted. “The language in the final rule gives the FAA discretion to approve other types of TAA in the future without further rulemaking, but we encourage everyone to check the definition to see if your aircraft qualifies, first.”

AOPA also asked the FAA to allow pilots to obtain a temporary document online to confirm medical certification. The FAA determined this particular change is outside the scope of the rulemaking, though the agency noted that a system is being created (the Aerospace Medicine Safety Information System) and scheduled for implementation in 2020 to accomplish this goal.


Privatization Fight Continues

By Russ Niles | June 18, 2018

To no one’s surprise, those in favor of splitting air traffic control from the FAA are busy planning their next move. After a last-minute grassroots lobbying effort blocked an amendment snuck into the FAA reauthorization bill passed last month that would have laid the legal groundwork for such a move, the CEO of one of the U.S.’s largest airlines was musing about the next steps in front of a friendly audience at the Economic Club of Washington earlier this month. EAA caught a story in Politico that quoted United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz as saying it’s already a topic of conversation when CEOs meet. “The airline industry is trying to formulate what the next plan would be,” Munoz told Politico “There’s an outline coming together, but it’ll be some time before we all get aligned around it.”

He further said that once the airlines decide what they want they’ll “provide that input and then work with the government to make that move forward.” Well, forewarned is forearmed so EAA says it’s not going to be that easy. “As EAA noted when the ATC privatization proposal in the House was withdrawn earlier this year, any celebration should be tempered with a guarded eye toward efforts by proponents to revitalize the effort in the future,” it said in its recent story. The plan that has so far been thwarted involves setting up a not-for-profit corporation that raises its funding directly from those using the national airspace system. The “user pay” model is opposed by general aviation groups that say the resulting corporation will turn over control of the system to the airlines. “EAA and other GA organizations support the continued modernization of the national airspace system, but not at the cost of equal access to the airspace or minimizing GA’s important role within the nation’s aviation infrastructure,” EAA said in its report.

GAMA, AIA Urge Senate Leaders To Act on FAA Bill

 – June 5, 2018, 11:31 AM
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) are urging the Senate leadership to bring the FAA reauthorization bill, S.1405, to the floor for a vote as soon as possible. The Senate Commerce Committee approved its version of the FAA reauthorization bill a year ago, but it had been held up by a provision regarding a measure that would alter the 1,500-hour requirements for pilots, as well as by a lack of consensus with the House over the U.S. air traffic control organization. The House, which passed its version of the comprehensive FAA bill in April, dropped the controversial ATC measure, and Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Thune (R-South Dakota) has long indicated a willingness to drop the 1,500-hour measure.

Even so, the Senate bill has not been scheduled for a vote and the fate of it this year has remained uncertain with some fearing it could get stalled by election-year politics or by other priorities in the Senate. If it does not pass this year, Congress would need to sign off on another FAA extension and then go back to the drawing board with new FAA reauthorization bills next year.

In a joint letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York), GAMA and AIA stressed key reforms in the current FAA bills, including in the areas surrounding certification and regulation, that they said “will benefit businesses large and small, as well as drive industry innovation and job growth.” The bills will stimulate exports and jobs and increase global competitiveness the associations added.

“With similar legislation already having passed the U.S. House of Representatives, we believe now is the right time for the U.S. Senate to decisively act to improve the FAA certification and regulatory process,” the associations said in the joint letter.

The associations stressed the need to act sooner, to provide time for the House and Senate to hash out differences between their respective bills before the end of September, when the current FAA authorization is set to expire.


May 31, 2018 

The revisions, initially developed by the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee Airman Certification System working group, include some new regulations, such as those accommodating Part 68 BasicMed privileges and limitations. Additional changes include edits to account for the FAA’s recent reorganization, different types of hypoxia, and giving the evaluator discretion to ask for a full aerodynamic stall on a checkride, to name a few.

“The enhancements to the standards are clearly laid out in the beginning of each document,” said David Oord, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs and chair of the ACS working group. “The integrated standards incorporate all the knowledge, risk management, and skill elements needed for a certificate or rating—clearly defining what an applicant is expected to know, consider, and do in order to pass and to also be a safe pilot.”

The working group consists of experts and stakeholders from both the FAA and industry, working together on a system that connects the certification standards to FAA advisory handbooks, test questions, and the practical test. “The working group’s motto of ‘continuous improvement’ is reflected in the effort to provide predictable, regular updates to the standards,” said Oord. Processes have been established to identify and coordinate any changes to regulations, policies, and/or technologies that will need to be accounted for and incorporated into the standards.

With this set of foundational standards in place, the ACS working group continues its development of the next set of certificates and ratings, including ATP, Commercial Pilot—Military Competence, Aviation Maintenance Technician, Rotorcraft, Powered-lift, and Instructor. Recommendations for those standards and other components of the certification system will be channeled through the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee for its review and submittal to the FAA, Oord said.

For those who would like additional information, the FAA will host a webinar on June 6 at 2:30 p.m. Central Time to go over the 2018 updates.