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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: Alaska Launches GA Safety Initiative

PRODUCTS | AVIONICS

The U.S. state of Alaska is launching a comprehensive aviation safety initiative that would establish a low-interest loan program for acquiring advanced, satellite-based avionics for general aviation aircraft and improve terrain mapping of the state.

The initiative is tied to FAA efforts to implement automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) air traffic services in Alaska.

The FAA had asked Alaska to allocate $34 million for ADS-B equipage for about 4,000 general aviation airplanes.

Alaska has seven times more licensed pilots than the U.S. average and the nation’s highest accident rate. A leading cause of accidents is bad weather. The advanced avionics is aimed at reducing such accidents.

"In addition to reducing aircraft accidents, equipping planes with these advanced avionics can offer safer access to rural communities," Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said in unveiling the initiative in late January. "This new technology will also increase the safety and effectiveness of medical evacuations and search-and-rescue operations."

The initiative calls for creating new digital maps of the entire state. These maps, used by the new avionics, would feature accurate height and depth data of physical terrain, data that would be incorporated in FAA terrain models.

It also would provide map data for flight simulators, allowing pilots to receive realistic and accurate training for flying in Alaska. — Air Safety Week

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