Category: FAA

Runway incursions still happening. FAA’s Latest Solution More Lights   The problem of runway incursions has been around for as long as there are runways.

But at big airports, especially at night, the problem has been more frequent and more dangerous.

Big airports have radar to tell the tower where airplanes are on the surface and many pilots now have GPS that tells them where they are, but runway incursions still happen.

The FAA’s preferred solution is to throw money at the problem in the hope that it disappears. So the FAA has spent billions changing colors, adding colors, adding lights, changing lights but the problem persists.

Let’s see why.

All taxiways have yellow lines drawn down the centerline. Put your nose wheel on it and your good…well not really.

Some taxiways have green lights imbedded on top of the yellow lines. Follow the green and you are good…well not exactly.

Of course the taxiways are marked on each side by blue lights so stay between the blue lights and you are okay…well no.

 

Then there are the big painted circles that are invisible at night with the runway number painted on them on the taxiway.

 

And there are the flashing red/yellow lights at the end of the taxiway and entrance to the runway.

 

Does that mean stop, caution, both or just another cool set of lights.

Of course the lights for the taxiways are yellow with black letters and for the taxiway you are taxiing on the background is sort of yellow and black with black letters.

 

Now the FAA has been adamant that all pilots be taught to follow ATC instructions. So adamant has the FAA been that instead of using English terms as required by International agreements, they have chosen to alter the language to throw in a little linguistic confusion. Traditionally, that means forever, the FAA said that “Position and Hold” meant enter the runway and stay put until “Cleared for Takeoff.”

Every pilot on the planet knew this term.

But, so everyone could be confused and eons of training and experience thrown to the wind, the FAA had the bright idea of changing the well-worn phrase to “Line Up and Wait.”

Now, if there is no line this phrase makes no sense and there could be no line because only one aircraft is allowed on the runway at a time. But, we pilots have come to learn it and abide by it, senselessness or not.  Which brings me to the latest goofy FAA expenditure called “Runway Status Lighting Systems.”

The FAA had the bright idea, bright red in fact, to add a new set of lights to the confusing array of lighting and painting color symbiology.

On the taxiways adjacent to the active runway are red lights imbedded into the tarmac. If you are cleared onto the runway and the lights are red, you are to disregard your ATC clearance stay put and ask what’s up.

Once you are cleared to Line Up and Wait, assuming the red lights are off or you have been instructed by ATC to disregard them, after you line up or are cleared for takeoff there are another set of imbedded lights on each side of the Runway Centerline. If they are lit you are not to takeoff, but to ask ATC whether it really means cleared for takeoff or something else. Meanwhile, other aircraft that may be landing on the same runway will no doubt be going around until this is all sorted out. If you are making an intersection takeoff, you will never see either set of status lights so you are doomed.

 

Well done once again FAA. You have spent tens of millions of dollars to add more confusion to the process, guaranteed more runway incursions, and worse now told pilots to disregard ATC instructions when these lights are lit, which they may or may not see.

Over and Lights Out!

Arthur Alan Wolk

5/30/19

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This is a letter that Arthur Alan Wolk sent today to Daniel Goren, Esq. Division of Aviation – Philadelphia International Airport and Bill Banks, Manager, FAA Airports District Office – Flight Standards District Offices

Re: Northeast Philadelphia Airport (KPNE)

Gentlemen,

I am a tenant at The North Philadelphia Jet Center. I operate an Eclipse Jet. Other aircraft that regularly use the airport include all types of Gulfstream, Global Express and BBJ jets. These aircraft are heavier, land and takeoff faster and are bigger than many smaller air transport aircraft at KPHL including all models of the CRJ, Embraer Regional Jets and Embraer 175 aircraft, not to mention the Boeing 737 and MD-80s.

I understand that KPNE is designated as a reliever airport for KPHL. Whether the latter is true, in an emergency, its 7000 by 150 foot runway is a perfect alternate landing site for any large aircraft in trouble or where the runways at Philadelphia are fouled. The approaches are clear, the ILS and GPS approaches perfect, the landing distance is adequate and the width is safe for virtually any emergency which might include a locked up brake, blown tire, ice on the runway or just a bad landing or takeoff.

The condition of the runway was virtually perfect, and except for a slightly non-standard safety area off of Runway 24, it was within FAA runway specifications. I now understand that the entire length of Runway 24 is being dug up so its sub-structure can be brought up to current FAA specifications, but it is also to be narrowed by 50 feet because the FAA “won’t pay for restructuring the full existing width due to the aircraft that typically operate from there.” You’re kidding, right? April 9, 2019 Page 2

The FAA will pay to rip up a 7000 foot runway to the dirt, put it out of service for nearly a year, to increase the strength of the sub-structure, which is only needed for heavy aircraft like 150,000 lbs. or more, but will narrow the very same runway to a dangerous width because airplanes of that weight don’t typically use the airport. If that doesn’t make sense to you, it doesn’t make sense to me either.

I have spent my life litigating aircraft accidents because of the FAA’s inexplicable absent oversight. The FAA airports division’s failure to get runways at public airports to meet specification, including runway safety areas designated since 1975 as 500 by 1000 feet is legendary, but narrowing an existing runway is beyond incompetent and just dangerous!

You will reap what you have sewn. A jet aircraft will go off the side of this narrow runway when it is icy or wet and the weather is down, at night likely when an approach might be flown at a higher landing speed with limited visibility.

If a large aircraft is waiting for takeoff at the end of Runway 24, it will bend the localizer and the next aircraft will be 50 feet off centerline. If the GPS signal is being tested or altered due to Defense Department needs, the loss of accuracy will put an aircraft on that approach off centerline by fifty feet or more.

As a taxpayer, I am angry that you would spend our money in such a frivolous fashion, and as a pilot I am appalled that you would compromise our safety in this reckless manner. I am asking my Senators and Congressmen to look into this, but if nothing is done I will file for an injunction with the federal court. The action taken is without factual support, is arbitrary, capricious and against the FAA’s own safety standards.

Incredibly poor judgment by the City and the FAA both of which should know better. You already have small aircraft that make it off the side of the existing runway, how many lives will be lost when a large aircraft with a bunch of people cartwheels off the side because there is no longer adequate pavement. Then your thoughts and prayers will be too late!

This decision must be reversed!

Very truly yours,

ARTHUR ALAN WOLK

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Boeing has announced and the FAA has agreed to software changes to the MCAS system, the anti-stall system suspected in causing 300 deaths in the last 4 months on the Boeing 737 Max 8.

The Boeing announcement says the enhancements include updates to “the MCAS flight control law, pilot displays, operation manuals and crew training. The enhanced flight control law incorporates angle of attack (AOA) inputs, limits stabilizer trim commands in response to an erroneous angle of attack reading and provides a limit to the stabilizer command in order to retain elevator authority.”

Yet just yesterday the FAA issued a certification of continued airworthiness for the 737 Max 8 claiming to the world that in spite of the two recent accidents, the airplane is just fine. That’s funny, an Airworthiness Directive addresses safety of flight issues and one is already issued on an emergency basis and the software enhancements are included in the second to be issued in April. Other changes are likely to be mandated as well.

So the B-737 Max 8 is so safe that over 300 people are dead and it needs to be changed to keep flying yet the FAA hasn’t grounded it until the “enhancements” are introduced.

Other U.S. carriers who operate the Max refuse to take it out of service. What will the FAA say when another one goes down, this time in the U.S., “Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims’ families.”?

This is politics as usual and the FAA is covering up its embarrassment for having certified an airplane with an emergency system that causes its own emergency. The 737 Max 8 will one day be fixed just like the 737 rudder was after six accidents years ago, but right now until it’s fixed it should remain on the ground.

The FAA is useless!

Arthur Alan Wolk

3/12/19

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