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News and Updates – U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $840 Million in Infrastructure Grants to 381 Airports in 47 States

The 432 grants will fund infrastructure projects at 381 airports around the country.

News and Updates – FAA Breaks Ground for New Air Traffic Tower at GSO

The U.S. Department of Transportations Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) held a groundbreaking ceremony today for a new Air Traffic Control Tower and Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) at Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO) in Greensboro, N.C. The agency will invest $61 million in the new facility.

This investment in infrastructure and technology will place the airport in an excellent position for future growth, said Michael OHarra, Regional Administrator of the FAAs Southern Region. The new facility will enable air traffic controllers to provide the safest and most efficient service to Piedmont Triad area travelers for decades to come.

It has been 45 years since the current Air Traffic Control Tower was put into service, said Steve Showfety, Chairman of the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority. Today we are turning a page. This new tower will give us the modern infrastructure we need to live up to the vision of our master plan and will allow the Piedmont Triad International Airport to continue to add new passenger service, serve our current tenants and also add new tenants who will bring investment and jobs to the community.

The new control tower will be 180 feet tall, topped by a 550-square-foot tower cab to accommodate up to eight positions for air traffic controllers. The 15,650-square-foot base building will anchor the new tower and will house the Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) with up to 10 radar positions for air traffic controllers. The TRACON controls airspace within a 60-mile radius of the airport, which includes 20 general aviation airports. It will be equipped with the latest technology for communications and navigation.

Construction began in April 2019, and the FAA expects to commission the facility in 2022. Total cost is $61 million: $41 million for construction and $20 million for equipment and installation, cabling, telecommunications, and construction of a new communications transmitter/receiver. The cost of demolition of the existing facility and disposal of the equipment also is included in the total.

North Carolina is the only state where the FAA is building two new air traffic control facilities. The FAA will commission the new 370-foot-tall tower at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in summer 2020.

The GSO tower will allow air traffic controllers to manage flights safely and efficiently at North Carolinas third busiest airport. Greensboro Tower controlled 85,700 flights and the TRACON handled 150,000 radar operations in the 12 months ending on April 30, 2019.

A total of 46 FAA employees work at Greensboro Tower 31 in Air Traffic and 15 Technical Operations employees who install and maintain 266 facilities at Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Burlington and Martinsville, Va., airports.

The FAA awarded the construction contract to Archer Western Construction, LLC, of Chicago, Ill., in October 2018. The new facility will replace the existing 90-foot-tall tower that has been in operation since 1974.

News and Updates – FAA Issues Waiver to Fly Drones With Parachutes

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today that it issued Hensel Phelps Construction Company of Washington, D.C., a Part 107 waiver on June 1 to operate a DJI Phantom 4 drone, equipped with a parachute, over people.

A waiver is required to operate a drone contrary to the rules in part 107, which is the small unmanned aircraft rule.

The FAA did not certify or approve the parachute that will be used; however, the FAA determined that the waiver application sufficiently met the standard design specification (ASTM 3322-18) and that the proposed small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) operation could be safely conducted under the terms and conditions of a waiver.

Thiswaiver represents the first time the FAA has collaborated with industry in developing a publically available standard, worked with an applicant to ensure the testing and data collected acceptably met the standard, and issued a waiver using an industry standard as a basis to determine that a proposed sUAS operation can be safely conducted under the terms and conditions of a waiver under Part 107.

This process is scalable and available to other applicants who propose to use the same drone and parachute combination. The FAA will require each applicant to provide the testing, documentation, and statement of compliance listed in ASTM3322-18 in their applications using the same drone and parachute combination.

News and Updates – FAA Extends Comment Period on Rulemaking to Streamline Commercial Space Activities

WASHINGTON TheFederal Aviation Administration(FAA) is extending the public comment period for 45 days to July 30 for a proposed rulethat would streamline federal commercial space transportation requirements for launch and reentry operators and maintain safety during launches and reentries. The proposed rule follows the National Space Councils 2018 ‘Space Policy Directive 2’, which called on the Secretary of Transportation to review and revise the Departments commercial space launch and re-entry licensing regulations. It will expand access to the economic, scientific, and educational benefits of traveling to space. It will also support U.S. industry efforts to expand commercial services to a variety of domestic and international markets.

The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on April 15, and the original comment period was scheduled to close on June 14. Due to the rules breadth, significant impact, length and complexity, more than 50 commenters requested that the FAA extend the comment period. This extension addresses those comments.

The proposed rule advances proposals by the Streamlined Launch and Reentry Licensing Requirements Aviation Rulemaking Committee, which is made up of commercial space and aviation leaders from government and industry. Formed by the FAA over one year ago, the Committee discussed and put forward proposals and recommendations to the agency. The proposed rule is a result of that effort.

The extension notice is in todays Federal Register.

News and Updates – FAA Now Accepting Applications to Its Contract Tower Program

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today resumed accepting applications to the FAA Contract Tower (FCT) program, as called for under the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. Contract towers are air traffic control towers that are staffed by employees of private companies rather than by FAA employees.

Like most federal investments, the agency is required to perform a benefit-cost analysis (BCA) on each contract tower to determine whether or not it is eligible for participation in the FCT program. In order to be admitted into the FCT program, the safety and efficiency benefits of a tower must exceed its costs. The FAA will calculate an official benefit-cost ratio associated with each applicant, and the types of volume and activity that it supports. The agencys BCA calculations comply with congressional direction on specific changes to costs and benefits in the model. The processing of each application is expected to take at least three months.

There are currently 256 contract towers in the FCT program. Airports interested in applying should contact the Program Implementation Manager (PIM) in their service center.

The phone number for the Eastern Service Center PIM is 404-305-7153.
The phone number for the Central Service Center PIM is 817-222-4261.
The phone number for the Western Service Center PIM is 206-231-2892.