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Senator Begich Speaks to FAA on Alaska Air Traffic

There’s a new plan being proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration that would add eight Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast ground stations to Alaska’s 33. 

US Senator Mark Begich spoke at a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security in Washington DC last week.  He pushed for the federal government to speed up the use of technology to make flying in Alaska safer for small aircraft.

“Whenever we talk to FAA they always say ‘we’ve covered Alaska,’ and that’s true 13,000 feet and up. But because of our general aviation capacity which is 16 times more pilots licensed in Alaska than any other place in the country, the 3-5 thousand doesn’t really get covered as aggressively as it could be.”

Begich says Alaska considers a lot of small planes as commercial planes because it’s the only way to get around the state.  The senator was speaking primarily to FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker.  He offered testimony in favor of implementing the Next Generation Air Traffic System, or NextGen.

“When we are dealing with the NextGen advisory committee, it’s really commercial need and where the benefits are going to come from. The safety and risk factors are cooked into the underlying plan that we have.”

The NextGen technology, Begich says, is a satellite-based surveillance system that’s more precise than the current radar-based Air Traffic Control system and was tested in Alaska.