The FAA is apparently resisting moving a localizer at Detroit Metro Airport whose signals are sometimes blocked by taxiing aircraft. According to WXYZ, an air traffic controller at the airport filed a whistleblower complaint after he and fellow controllers, as well as pilots who suddenly lost the signal on final, were ignored by the agency. Vince Sugent finally filed the official complaint with the Office of Special Counsel after the FAA said it deemed the sporadic signal interruptions an “acceptable risk.” Sugent said in his complaint that by continuing to use the problematic ILS approach, the “FAA has prioritized airport efficiency and capacity over the safety of the flying public.” The Office of Special Counsel agreed and sent the issue to the executive branch.

The localizer for the ILS Y Approach for 22R at Metro is offset and aircraft clearing the runway taxi past it. That can block the signal to following aircraft and it’s knocked flights off course and caused plenty of irritation with those in the cab and in the cockpit. According to the report, the agency stopped using the Y Approach for a few years but resumed in 2018.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. “FAA has prioritized airport efficiency” … ha, FAA and efficiency in the same sentence. More likely someone found a pet project to which they directed funds.

  2. The problem is that DTW wants to do triple independent approaches, and the criteria do not allow a straight in ILS on Runway 22R–so they need the offset approach. I am not sure what is the big deal–it has been a problem for more than ten years.

    The aircraft could use the RNAV 22R, which is also offset, and the RNAV works fine since it is based on GPS. But–the principal aircraft using 22R are RJs, which can’t do the RNAV approach.

    Too bad the airlines didn’t buy WAAS like everyone else.


    Vince Massimini
    Kentmorr Airpark MD (3W3)

    • Not only did the airlines NOT buy WAAS, they did everything in their power to derail the WAAS program. The airline lobby, Airlines for America (A4A), repeatedly pressured congress to discontinue development of WAAS approaches – which it claimed disproportionately benefited GA – and reallocate those resources toward PBN approaches that non-WAAS-equipped airliners could utilize at class-B and -C airports. Lucky for us, the FAA pushed back and continued its WAAS-based NextGen initiatives.

      In the end, A4A had to settle for a 5 year deferral of WAAS implementation for its member airlines. Of course it is “too bad the airlines didn’t buy WAAS” but they could never overcome their reluctance to purchase a system which could not pay for itself in 6 Quarters.