Seminar on Aviation Policy
Seminars are organized with an intention to learn new skills and knowledge and also improve the already learned knowledge so as to realize professional growth. Seminars are also necessary for the creation a better working environment between people since team building exercise is incorporated into the seminar schedule. The aeronautic industry is a complex field resulting from the volume of trade involved, the high level of security required in the industry and the complexity of different routes (Ben-Yosef, 2006). The industry is guided by strict regulations that aim at ensuring tit is safe for passengers and the workers while also ensuring the environment is not degraded by the processes involved. Further, laws are essential in ensuring that airport infrastructure meets the required standards and safety requirements, both to the public and people working in the airports while at the same time meeting its objectives. The invention of unmanned aircraft’s commonly known as drones further calls for regulations and policies to ensure they operate within the required safety framework. Different authorities are legally endorsed with the mandate to develop policies to guide the industry, further; the authorities are also needed to ensure policies are implemented for the good of the industry and the general public. Having a good understanding of the different players in the aviation sector, their roles, and contributions is important for any person in the aeronautic field.
This paper is a report of a three-day Policy Seminar conducted between Four PM Tuesday 3rd ,2017 and Four PM Friday 6th January 2017. The paper seeks to analyze knowledge gained from the seminar and the activities that were carried out while at the seminar. The paper furthers explains the schedule of activities that occurred in the seminar and their relevance to the overall aim of the seminar. Finally, it seeks to recognize the individuals in the seminar and the level of interaction between the participants both in the same department and in different departments.
Program Schedule and Activities Carried Out
At four PM on Tuesday 3rd ,January 2017, the doors opened marking the start of the three day seminar on Aviation Policy; this would mark the start of a rigorous educative process. This was followed by a welcome and keynote speech from Andy Cebula, the vice president of KTCA, in the speech he introduced issues on the strategies and the programs that would be conducted in the seminar. The day ended with an interactive team meeting and dinner organized by United Airlines, and this marked the end of Tuesday.
On Wednesday the day started with a free breakfast courtesy of Piedmont Airlines which was followed by a security check by the Federal Airport Administration (FAA). The seminar session would resume with FAA taking the better part of the morning addressing the overview and her contribution to the regulation and improvement of the aviation industry. Later, a subcommittee meeting was conducted followed by a visit by the congregational representatives before ending the day with a team meeting.
Thursday 5th started with breakfast courtesy of National Business Aviation Association, Industry Association visit followed this. The whole day was spent discussing current trends in the aviation industry, strategies and airport planning and financing among other topics. This would extend to next and final day of the seminar, further, the day saw the Nation Transport Safety Board (NTSB) tour before a team meeting and a culminating session that marked the end of the seminar.
Knowledge Gained and Improved
The seminar was a policy seminar, therefore, a better understanding of the roles, relevance and contribution of different departments and authorities to the entire aviation industry was critical.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
This is a body that is legally endorsed with the powers to regulate, control and supervise the implementation of the activities in the aviation industry (Ben-Yosef, 2006). The authority is mandated to oversee the construction, operation, and maintenance of airports and its associated facilities ensuring that the services meet the required safety standards. The authority also certifies the credibility of pilots and other aviation personnel and develops rules to ensure safe entry of unmanned aircraft. Furthermore, it is mandated to ensure the safety of people and property in the event of reentry and launching of air vehicles. Federal Aviation Authority also controls the air traffic and ensures that the aeronautic sector is run and operated in a sustainable manner taking into consideration the environmental concerns.
The formation of the authority dates back to 1958 when Senator Almer Stillwell “Mike” Monroney who represented Oklahoma introduced a bill in the Senate that required the formation of an independent body to oversee the operations of the aviation industry. This was followed by a series of reform that have since shaped up the authority and streamlined its operation in regard to the growth and the ever changing dynamics of the industry (Ben-Yosef, 2006). In 1978, the Airline Deregulation Bill was signed to law, this bill opened up the aviation industry by removing government controls on some aspects of the aviation industry for example flight fares, flight routes and restriction of entry by other airlines (Robyn, 1987). This saw an increase in the number of flight and a reduction in flight fares, calling for policies that ensure safety with the increased traffic. In 1981, the aviation industry was faced with a major challenge when twelve thousand three hundred workers who were members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) went on strike and paralyzed activities across the nation. During the strike, President Ronald Reagan gave an ultimatum of forty-eight hours for the workers to resume work failure to which their employment would be terminated. Later, the president made valid his word arguing that those involved in the strike were violating the law. In 1995, a milestone was achieved, this saw the transfer of the commercial space transportation office to the Federal Authority Administration, therefore, increasing its power and command. Finally, another milestone was realized in 2001 when President George Bush signed into law the Aviation and Transportation Security Act. The Act led to the formation of Transportation Security Administration (TSA). However, TSA did not last for long before it was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security after its establishment.
FAA has well-defined strategic initiatives that guide its operation which includes, making the aviation industry safe for both the passengers and the personnel. The initiative also includes using technology and infrastructure to generate benefit while promoting innovation and enhancing leadership at global level. The Authority has successfully supervised the construction of 53 towers, developed a drone registration system, and it has also successfully implemented the training of future leader to spearhead the authorities operations in the future. Additionally, the authority has also banned the use of lithium batteries, therefore, ensuring a safe and environmentally friendly travel within the United States and beyond (Ben-Yosef, 2006). Despite the achievements, regulating and controlling of new entrants into the industry remains a challenge that requires regular checking. Additionally, noise pollution from the aircraft remains another challenge to the authority due to its pollution effect and discomfort to people(Tretheway & Oum, 1992).
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
This is an independent body that is mandated to conduct investigations to determine the cause and security measures involving, aviation, marine, railroad and highway accidents in the United States of America. This board was formed in 1967 and was initially known as Civil Aeronautical Board before it evolved to the current NTSB. Currently its headquarters is located in Washington DC, however, it has other offices located across the country to ease its operations and smooth flow of information. Under the Federal Law of United States, this has full mandate to investigate all aviation related accidents and come up with recommendations on the cause and possible mitigation measures.
Aviation accidents have become a common phenomenon which has been attributed to human error and mechanical failure in the plane, therefore, it is important to fully understand the cause of the accident and the possible safety measures. This helps to prevent future occurrence while also reduce the negative impact caused by such accidents in case they happen. The board is constituted of a five-member team which is responsible for ensuring a thorough investigation is conducted; however, due to the magnitude and the workload involved in the process, the board incorporate other institutions to aid the process. These agencies provide necessary expertise and resources that ensure the process is credible, transparent and professional. The bodies involved include; flight companies whose aircraft are involved in accidents, security and criminal investigative bodies and professional aviation bodies. This process of involving other agencies in the investigation process is called the ‘party system,’ and it has proven very fruitful in the inquiry process. Despite the numerous milestone achievement made by the system, it is sometimes challenging to achieve convincing results when one agency is trying to cover up for mistakes it might have committed which led to the accident. Therefore, the board has established checks that ensure that the process is transparent and efficient hence eliminating instances of cover-ups due to shoddy or compromised investigations. This has been made possible by the board putting measures that ensure only people with desired technical expertise represent organizations in the examination process. Further, it is prohibited for insurance agencies and representatives from taking part in the investigation process since they may compromise the process to favor their expectations. Finally, to ensure the credibility of the process, the attorney is not allowed into the inquiry unless an accident is of criminal nature.
The process of accident or incident investigation begins by the establishment of a ‘go team’ which is dispatched to the scene of an accident immediately an incident or accident is reported. The composition of the team is dependent on the nature and magnitude of the accident and the impact caused by its occurrence. The team is required to collect baseline information at the scene before tempering with evidence. This information is vital since it determines the direction and nature of investigation to be carried out while also it provides a limelight into a possible cause of the accident. This is the first step into the investigation of an incidence or accident for aviation marine railroad and highway industry.
The ‘go team’ then recommends the nature of investigation to be conducted which may include conducting of a public hearing or any other form that is likely to achieve credible results. Each accident and incident are unique both in magnitude and complexity and therefore, each investigation has different time limits required to complete the process. Ultimately, the board will establish recommendations based on the survey which stipulate the level of involvement by various bodies in the implementation of recommendations.
Finally, NTSB is limited to only giving recommendations about an incidence or accident. The recommendation is then to be implemented by relevant authorities including aviation regulator or individual flight company. Additionally, the board does not supervise the implementation of recommendations; this is a setback to the realization of a safe airline industry. Further, NTSB does not initiate prosecution of individuals responsible for negligence which lead to incidences or accidents; this is a situation that also reduces the efficiency of the board.
National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)
This is a nonprofit organization that represents companies which rely on general aviation to conduct their business and provide services. Currently, NBAA represents over eight thousand businesses that ply their trade through airline industry, and they, therefore, rely on information from the association to make important business decisions. The Association was formed in 1947, currently, its headquarters is situated in Washington DC, but it has numerous sub-offices across the country. The primary mandate of NBAA is to provide in-depth information regarding aeronautic sector. Additionally, it organizes trade fair and trade shows on aviation. This helps to market the airline sector and creates a forum where industry players interact and learn more about the industry. Illustratively, the association organizes the NBAA Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (BACE), this is the largest aviation exhibition in the globe.
To provide credible information on aeronautical industry, NBAA carries out security study in the sector. The survey provides an in-depth investigation into safety policies and current safety situation of the aviation industry which reinforces the safety report produced by NTSB. The security investigation report which covers on numerous topics including safety reporting policies and anticipated risks are presented to members of NBAA. They are usually available to members in the form of charts and graphs with analysis which adequately describes the situation and the risk level involved. This information is vital ti industry player in making decision on how to invest and conduct business while minimizing the effect that might occur. To combat risk NBAA has recommended that all business operation aircraft’s regardless of size need to implement a Safety Management System (SMS) in all its operations. SMS involves the implementation of a system that identifies potential risk and put in place relevant procedures and processes to combat negative impacts in case the risk occur.
NBAA also performs the duty of advocacy for its members at all levels both locally and internationally. This has ensured that the interest of deputies is considered in decision making and policy formulation stages. The Association advocates for members interest during policy-making process at the federal and local level, this is made possible since the association has established contact at the Senate and in the White House. The composition of NBAA ensures efficient representation of members since it has profession from all relevant field, example, law experts, and business analysis experts.
Airport improvement program (AIP)
This is an entity that provides financial support in the form of grants to public agencies for the development and upgrading of public airport facilities. Additionally, the program extends its grants to private owned airports that are enlisted in the National Plan of Integrated Airport System depending on the importance of the project to the public (Tretheway & Oum, 1992). The program had evolved over time starting from its inception in 1946 when it was known as Federal Aid Airport Program (FAAP). It later transformed to Planning Grant Program (PGP) and which later became the Airport Development Aid program ( ADAP) in 1970. Finally, it evolved to Airport Improvement Program in 1982; the authority has seen the successful completion of various major projects including the completion of a paved runway at Sioux County Regional Airport, completion of surveillance radar at St Louis Airport among others. However, the authority is mandated to only finance projects that are listed to be eligible according to the set policies of operation. The project includes; construction, maintenance, and renovation of runways and aprons, buying of land for the purpose of construction of new airports or expansion of the existing ones. Additionally, it finances the construction of weather observation stations and facilities among others. For the successful distribution of funds among the many airports in need of grants, the authority gives priority to projects that are rated high by use of to the National Priority System (NPS) equation which acceptable nationally. The use of the equation prioritizes projects that that are geared towards increasing the capacity of the airports and improving safety.
Airport Planning and Environmental Overview
The authority is part of the greater Airport Planning and Programming Division with its duties specifically aligned to planning and environmental assessment of projects and facilities. Due to a large number of requests for grants by airports, the authority is mandated to prioritize the proposed project and supervise the overall grant program to ensure the funds are distributed as per the requirement (Tretheway & Oum, 1992). Further, this body is responsible for the development of guidelines and policies that guide the process of land use and the environment in general. Additionally, the authority is mandated to provide guidance in the process of Environmental Impact Assessment in the events of construction of new airports and the expansion of existing ones. Most importantly, it provides oversight in the process of land acquisition, disposal of property that is no longer in use and the relocation of the airport facilities to new areas.
Unmanned aircraft systems
Unmanned aircraft system also referred to as drones are aircrafts that operate without the existence of a human pilot and uses advanced technology to navigate in space. These aircraft’s are either controlled remotely by a human on ground or have on board computer incorporated into their systems, therefore, making it possible to monitor and control its movements. The use of drones has their origin in the military science where they were developed to gather useful intelligence and also aid in making attacks. They can be traced to the unmanned bomb incorporated into balloons that Austria sent to attack Venice. However, the use of drones has evolved and is currently being used not only for military purpose but also for recreation. The system is a combination of three vital components; firstly, the unmanned aircraft- this is the air vehicle that takes flight into the atmosphere. The vehicle is usually small in size compared to the manned aircrafts. They contain integrated circuits and communication micro-systems that convey signal and information to the ground stations for processing. Secondly, is the ground control location, this is the position and station from which commands are generated and sent. The station is also responsible for managing the flight properties of the drone;an example is the flying speed, direction to fly and flight elevation (Robyn, 1987). The command and control links is the third component of the drone system. These are integrated circuit and monitoring features that aid in the control and interpretation of command from human language to machine language and vice versa. The use of drones has remained relevant and helpful in carrying out flight activities that are dangerous and risky for the human. Additionally, they have also found beneficial utilization in the process of policing and surveillance, therefore, helping in gathering of information and evidence. For recreation purpose, drones have become a source of entertainment in staging of mock fights; example is aircraft fights or where they support ground troops. Furthermore, drones are efficient in the education field since they help to explain concepts practically (Robyn, 1987). However, regulations governing the use of these space vehicles are necessary since they are a source of security and safety concern. The Federal Airport Administration is mandated to regulate the safe and correct use of drone so as to ensure they do not become a source of accidents and health safety concern. Regulations are important since space is public property, this implies that absence of rules would translate into a space that is crowded with space vehicle and become accident prone (Robyn, 1987). Secondly, it is important to ensure that the drone complies to the standards and regulation to avoid conflict of interest.
Operations of drones are classified into two categories each having its specific regulations that guide its applications. The first group of drones is those used specifically recreation and the process of education or related use; these drones do not move over large areas (Ben-Yosef, 2006). According to the FAA operating guidelines, these drones do not require FAA certified pilot to operate. However, they must be registered in case they have a weight of more than 0.55 pounds. Additionally, they must give right of way to manned aircraft in any circumstances that the drone needs to use the same pathway or if they accidentally get into the routes of manned aircrafts. Finally, they must always conform to the existing community safety regulations and abide by the set guidelines so as to encourage peaceful coexistence in the community. The second category is the commercial operations drones; the drones are used for the purpose of surveillance, policing and for any business activity which is not recreational (Ben-Yosef, 2006). FAA regulations on this category of air vehicles require that they are operated by Remote Pilot Airman certified pilots. Further, these drones should fly not higher than four hundred feet from the ground surface and the flight speed must not exceed one hundred miles per hour. Additionally, they must always provide the right of passage whenever a manned aircraft uses the same path or accidentally crosses its path.
To fly a commercial drone it is required that the pilot is Remote Pilot Airman certified, the certification is the process that entail passing of an aeronautical knowledge examination having been done at an institute of learning that is recognized by FAA. Additionally, the pilots must be over sixteen years of age; this helps in ensuring that in an emergency event, the pilot can react to the situation maturely (Robyn, 1987). This regulation helps to avoid quacks and unqualified people from operating the drones. Further, the drones must be registered to ease the process of tracking and monitoring of their compliance. Due to technological improvements, FAA has devised an online registration platform that users can log into and register their space vehicles. The registration process requires identification of the drone; therefore, the make, the model and its serial number are important since it facilitates the process of tracking in case they do not comply with regulations.
Individuals in the seminar and the level of interaction
The workshop provided a forum for interaction and meeting new people who are players in the industry and getting their views on different issues regarding the policies and the role of the different organization. I was privileged to meet the representatives from the Federation Airport Administration and representatives from the Planning and Environmental Division. Present in the meeting too were Aviation regulatory team and a team from the unmanned aircraft department. I also had the opportunity to have good and lengthy time with members of my department
The three-day policy seminar conducted between four PM Tuesday 3rd ,2017 and four PM Friday 6th January 2017 was a great experience and an eye opener into the insight operations of different departments and their contributions to the aviation industry. The various activities and relevance of the players in the aeronautic field was well elaborated and interactively discussed. Federal Airport Administration is a body mandated to ensure the smooth running of aviation processes, from the airport facilities and personnel to the airspace vehicles. This Authority has numerous departments that work independently but in a well-coordinated manner to ensure the safety and growth of the industry. Additionally, the seminar was a platform to interact and exchange knowledge and information amongst members in the same department and those from the different department in the industry. Finally, the level of organization and the coordination of activities in the seminar was very admirable, a predetermined schedule was followed. This ensured that no particular presentation was omitted due to delays, inadequate allocation of time and boredom due to long sessions. In order to provide functional and first hand interaction, tours and interactive forums were incorporated into the schedule. This was especially helpful in providing boredom is eliminated and practical knowledge is encouraged.
Ben-Yosef, E. (2006). The evolution of the US airline industry: Theory, strategy and policy (Vol. 25). Springer Science & Business Media.
Robyn, D. (1987). Braking the special interests: Trucking deregulation and the politics of policy reform. University of Chicago Press.
Tretheway, M. W., & Oum, T. H. (1992). Airline economics: foundations for strategy and policy.University of British Columbia