Users Protest, Blakey Defends Action
The Alaska Aviation Coordination Council (AACC), an industry group, expressed immediate dismay to the FAA when the system went off the scopes, calling the action "a most serious threat to Alaska aviation safety." Even worse, the loss occurred just as the state was gearing up for its busiest -- and riskiest -- spring and summer season, when long hours of daylight and the tourist influx drive operations. FAA Administrator Marion Blakey responded to their concerns in a letter on Monday. She defended the suspension of ADS-B from radar scopes as "appropriate," pending a review of separation standards. Although Gardner (and the FAA Web site) said there is "no timeline" for the return of service, Blakey said she is "confident" that the issues can be resolved by July. But for Alaskan aviators, the delay has caused problems beyond the immediate operational ones. "The credibility of the Capstone program and the FAA itself has now become an issue at a crucial time when industry is actively engaged in planning for statewide deployment," the AACC wrote. Further, safety advocates in the state have been actively lobbying for private pilots to "self-equip" and invest in upgrading their cockpits to take advantage of ADS-B safety enhancements. They now are worried that their efforts are undermined by the FAA's perceived lack of commitment to the program.