Jerry Siebenmark THE WICHITA EAGLE
FAA Chief Updates Agency’s Progress on Air Traffic, Regulatory Initiatives
May 12, 2015
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  • The chief of the Federal Aviation Administration told a group of Wichita aviation officials that his agency is working toward “creating a 21st century aviation system.”

    FAA administrator Michael Huerta said the effort includes moving to a satellite-based air traffic management system and accounting for innovation in the regulation of aircraft manufacturers.

    Huerta told a Wichita Aero Club luncheon Tuesday at the Doubletree by Hilton Wichita Airport that progress continues to be made in the transition to the next-generation air traffic management system, including completion of the En Route Automation Modernization program, an advanced computer system to manage and separate air traffic, and the upgrading of air traffic control equipment used by controllers, including at FAA control facilities at Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport.

    As part of the move to the new air traffic management system, Huerta said, all aircraft will need to comply with what’s called the automatic dependent surveillance broadcast, or ADS-B, mandate. The mandate requires all aircraft flying in controlled airspace to be equipped with the GPS-based identification technology. He said manufacturers and industry groups have been helpful in installing the technology in new aircraft and getting owners of older aircraft to adopt the new technology – about 8,000 airplanes in the U.S. have it now, Huerta said – but a lot more aircraft need it.

    And the FAA will not extend the Jan. 1, 2020, deadline for the mandate.

    “The answer is no,” he said. “We’re not going to extend the deadline.”

    Huerta also said his agency is working hard at updating its Part 23 regulations, which governs certification of new aircraft.

    He said a “wholesale rewrite” of the regulations is underway because innovation among aircraft makers has outpaced the regulations that govern new aircraft certification.

    The proposed changes, which should be publicly available yet this year, provide “room for flexibility and innovation in the marketplace” but won’t affect safety, he said.

    “I believe that we are at a historical time in aviation industry,” Huerta said. “We’re making a lot of decisions that will shape the next 50 years.”

    Huerta was scheduled Tuesday afternoon to visit the hangar in which volunteers are restoring the B-29 Bomber known as Doc, as well as tour Spirit AeroSystems. On Tuesday morning, Huerta toured the new Eisenhower Airport terminal.