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Tag: ndb decommissioning

Decommissioning of NDB’s and Airspace changes in Alaska

FAA is proposing changes to the aviation infrastructure in Alaska.  Public notices have been issued for decommissioning of non-directional beacons (NDBs) and to modify the Class D and E airspace around the Kodiak Airport.  Please review these proposals and let the FAA and AOPA know if they impact the flying you do in these areas.

NDB Decommissioning
FAA is continuing to look at decommissioning Non-Directional Beacons (NDB) in Alaska, as we make the transition to a GPS based NAS.  Notices of proposed decommissioning of the NDB’s at Homer, Deadhorse, Moses Point, Point Lay and Soldotna were issued recently, inviting public comment on potential impacts of these changes. In most cases FAA cites the availability of other ground-based approaches or airways and plans for T-Routes that are being developed to replace the old colored airways, to mitigate the loss of these navigation aids.  Below are graphics of the NDB’s proposed for decommissioning.

 

Moses Point (Norton Bay–OAY)

 

Deadhorse (PUT River–PVQ)

Homer (Kachemak –ACE)

Soldotna (OLT)

Point Lay–(PIZ)

AOPA generally supports moving to the more modern space-based systems but recognizes that in some cases unique needs may justify keeping the older technology in place.  We also recognize that the resources required to support NDB’s inhibit FAA’s ability to invest in the newer infrastructure, including weather reporting and ADS-B ground stations.

Please take a moment to examine the proposed decommissioning locations (links below to the individual notices). If you are adversely impacted, file a public comment to explain the situation.  Comments are due by July 15, 2021 and may be sent to:

Group Manager, Operations Support Group
AVJ-W2
FAA Western Service Center
2200 South 216th Street
Des Moines, WA 98198

Or via email to: [email protected]. Please also share your comments with AOPA at: [email protected]

To read the public notices for these changes see:

FAA Public Notice for OAY NDB

FAA Public Notice for ACE NDB

FAA Public Notice for PVQ NDB

FAA Public Notice for the OLT NDB

FAA Public Notice for Point Lay NDB

Kodiak Class D/E Airspace:

Proposed changes to the Class D (dashed green line) and Class E (yellow line). Note that the proposed expanded Class E starts at 700 ft agl. 

In another public notice, the FAA has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to modify the Class D airspace at Kodiak Airport (PADQ), while at the same time removing the Class E surface area east of the airport. It also significantly expands the Class E airspace with a 700 foot floor, north and east of the airport.

The changes are designed to better manage IFR operations at the airport. We are particularly interested in whether they impact VFR operations in the area.  To examine the details of the proposal see:

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/06/04/2021-11668/proposed-amendment-of-class-d-and-class-e-airspace-and-removal-of-class-e-airspace-kodiak-ak

Comments on this proposal are due by July 17, 2021 and should be addressed to:

U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140
Washington, DC 20590

They may also be submitted via the internet: https://www.regulations.gov. Please share these comments with AOPA as well at: [email protected]

Action to Take
Please review these proposals and let FAA as well as AOPA know if these changes impact your flying activities for either IFR or VFR operations.

Hearing from our members who fly in these areas helps us advocate for you!

Planned Decommissioning of the Chandalar Lake NDB impacts Airways

FAA is inviting public comment on their plan to decommission the Non-Directional Beacon (NDB) at Chandalar Lake (CQR), in Alaska’s Brooks Range.  The station has been out of service for a number of years, however the navigation aid has continued to serve as the anchor for low-altitude IFR airways.  Formal decommissioning will cause these airways to be shut down, although a GPS based T-Route will still provide a means for low-altitude IFR operations between the North Slope and locations in interior and southern Alaska.

Low-altitude IFR airways will be decommissioned when the Chandalar Lake NDB goes away.

Background
Chandalar Lake is a remote location in the central Brooks Range, with no roads connecting it to the outside world.  The 3,000 ft gravel/dirt runway provides access to this location on the shores of a beautiful lake in a glacier scoured valley surrounded by mountains.  The airstrip, owned and maintained by the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, provides access for miners and recreational users, as well as an  emergency alternate landing strip halfway between Fairbanks  (162 n miles to the south) and the oil fields at Deadhorse (162 nautical miles to the north).

The NDB serves as a ground-based nav aid defining two Victor Airways (V436 and V447) and a Colored Airway (A11) which will be decommissioned if the proposal is adopted.  The high altitude IFR routes (J115 and J155) will also experience an increase in the Minimum Enroute Altitude.  A low-altitude GPS airway (T227), will remain for aircraft suitably equipped.  FAA Tech Ops reports that the station is not repairable, and must be taken care of before environmental contamination occurs.

 Action to Take
The Public Notice  announcing the proposed change solicits comments through August 20, 2020.   If the loss of these low-altitude IFR airways impacts your operations, you may comment to the FAA’s Western Service Center at the following addresses:

Group Manager, Operations Support Group, AJV-W2
FAA Western Service Center
2200 South 216th Street
Des Moines, WA 98198

Or via email to:  [email protected]

Please also share your comments with AOPA at: [email protected]

FAA plans to decommission NDB’s at Glenallen, Mekoryuk and Noatak: User feedback requested

The FAA has issued Letters to Airmen outlining plans to decommission the Nondirectional Beacons (NDBs) at the Gulkana (GKN), Mekoryuk (MYU) and Noatak (WTK) airports.  In all three cases, the decommissioning’s are for navaids that have failed, and have been out of service for some time.  Even though they are non-functional, they serve as fixes that are part of the airway structure, or are components of instrument approaches.   If the removal of these navaids impacts your operation, please let the FAA know, using the contact information provided below.

Moving to Space Based IFR Infrastructure
While the FAA is moving to a space-based IFR system, NDBs in some locations are still serving not only as the basis for instrument approach procedures, but as anchor fixes for IFR airways.  Last year AOPA was part of an industry group that looked at the IFR Enroute infrastructure in Alaska.  Working with the Alaska Air Carriers Association, Alaska Airmen Association, National Business Aviation Association and other organizations, the group delivered formal recommendations to the FAA. The topics covered in the report were wide ranging including sections acknowledging the role NDBs play in the enroute environment, and expressed concern that some GPS based T-Routes have a much higher Minimum Enroute Altitude than the NDB-based colored airways. One of the recommendations called for the FAA to consider operator impacts before decommissioning any airway supported by NDBs.  Responding to a Letter to Airmen is one mechanism that the FAA uses to collect user feedback.

 

This specific working group was only tasked to look at the enroute infrastructure, but acknowledged that NDBs in some locations still serve an operational role in the terminal environment, which should also be considered before these stations are decommissioned.

User input needed
The FAA is struggling to move into the space-based, NextGen era, balancing the need to keep existing “legacy” systems in place, while obtaining funding to stand up new infrastructure.  AOPA and others are pushing FAA to expand the network of ADS-B ground stations in Alaska, to provide a “minimum operational network” across the state.  Decommissioning legacy navigation aids is one way to free up resources, but only after the operational needs of the users have been considered.  FAA is asking for our feedback on these three stations. If you fly to these areas, let the FAA know if removing these NDBs impacts your operations.  Please contact:

Mark Payne, NISC III contract support
Operations Support Group
Western Service Center

Phone:  425-203-4515

Email:    [email protected]

Please send copies to AOPA at: [email protected]

Links to the FAA Letters to Airmen:

Glenallen NDB OSGW-36 (003)

NANWAK NDB_DME OSGW-35 (003)

Noatak NDB Decommissioning OSGW-33