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The Capstone Program

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Autor:   •  November 29, 2010  •  919 Words (4 Pages)  •  831 Views

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The Alaska Region's "Capstone Program" is a safety program in Alaska that focuses on increasing aviation safety through the use of the latest advancements in modern technology.

Although being one lonesome state out north, Alaska has approximately 10% of the nation’s air carrier / commercial operators which accounts for approximately 35% of the nation’s air carrier / commercial operator accidents. The NTSB had recorded 112 accidents in Alaska involving air carrier / commercial operator during 1994 to 1996.

A recent study from FAA shows that almost forty percent of those accidents could have been avoided if the aircrafts were equipped with modern avionic equipment which could provide pilots with update weather and traffic information.

Capstone uses multiple programs simultaneously to plan, coordinate and develop new safety programs together with the FAA, the community and the aviation industry consistent with NAS plans and concepts. Capstone is also in place to speed up improved aviation safety through the use of government furnished Global Positioning Systems (GPS) in commercial aircrafts. Capstone will also set up a ground system for weather observation, data link communications, surveillance, and Flight Information Services (FIS) to improve safety. A successful Capstone demonstration will help to reduce the FAA's risk of a nation-wide switch to the future National Airspace System (NAS) Architecture 4.0.

Along with all the avionic equipment listed, the Capstone program also introduced automatic “Dependant Surveillance- Broadcast system (ADS-B), a new technology that allows pilots in the cockpit and air traffic controllers on the ground to "see" aircraft traffic with much more precision than has been possible ever before.” (FAA Capstone program)

The Capstone Program is based on the assumption that operators will equip their aircraft and participate in the program because they can immediately benefit added safety from the avionics. The FAA is foreseeing virtually all commercial operators in the demonstration area will voluntarily equip their aircraft.

The Capstone program was divided into three phases: phase one which focus on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region, phase two will cover southeast Alaska, and phase three will push the program to cover the entire Alaska.

During phase one of the program, the government will provide avionics suite to commercial aircraft operators serving the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta area at no cost, avionics which include: “GX-60 GPS receiver/comm or GX-50 GPS receiver, and the ADS-B (Automatic Dependant Surveillance - Broadcast).” (FAA Capstone program)

FAA will than push the program to cover the southeast part of Alaska during phase two and eventually operate the program statewide during phase three.

Through 2004 the FAA Alaskan Region Capstone Program has achieved significant safety and efficiency results. Capstone equipped aircraft have had a consistently lower accident rate than non- equipped aircraft. From 2000 through 2004, the rate of accidents for Capstone-equipped aircraft dropped significantly--by 47 percent. Also, the rate of accidents for Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Region-based air carriers has been falling since 2001, and is now at the lowest rate since 1990. Historically, the rate of air taxi accidents within the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta has been two to four times the rest of Alaska, but in 2003 the accident rate for the region was below the rest of the state for the first time. That is real progress.

Phase II of Capstone will expand the coverage to southeast Alaska, in the Juneau area, and Phase III contemplates expanding the program to cover the entire state. Also as part of Phase II, additional technology infrastructure will be deployed. New Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Procedure (RNP) arrival and departure procedures will continue to be developed for the airports recommended by the industry for upgrade to Instrument Flight


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