WBEZ | faa http://www.wbez.org/tags/faa Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en As rules get sorted out, drones may transform agriculture industry http://www.wbez.org/news/rules-get-sorted-out-drones-may-transform-agriculture-industry-111567 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/img_3297_wide-0eaf22bd10778693f1839956d8a491c74b257934-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On a breezy morning in rural Weld County, Colo., Jimmy Underhill quickly assembles a black and orange drone with four spinning rotors. We&#39;re right next to a corn field, littered with stalks left over from last year&#39;s harvest.</p><p>&quot;This one just flies itself. It&#39;s fully autonomous,&quot; Underhill says.</p><p>Underhill is a drone technician with <a href="http://agribotix.com/">Agribotix, a Colorado-based drone start</a> up that sees farmers as its most promising market. Today he&#39;s training his fellow employees how to work the machine in the field.</p><p>&quot;So if you want to start, we can walk over to the drone,&quot; Underhill says. &quot;It&#39;s got a safety button on here.&quot; And now it&#39;ll start flying.&quot;</p><p>The quadcopter zips 300 feet into the air directly above our heads, pauses for a moment and then begins to move.</p><p>&quot;So it just turned to the East and it&#39;s going to start its lawnmower pattern,&quot; Underhill says.</p><p>What makes the drone valuable to farmers is the camera on board. It snaps a high-resolution photo every two seconds. From there Agribotix stitches the images together, sniffing out problem spots in the process. Knowing what&#39;s happening in a field can save a farmer money.</p><p>At farm shows across the country, drones have become as ubiquitous as John Deere tractors. The Colorado Farm Show earlier this year included an informational session, telling farmers both the technical and legal challenges ahead.</p><p>&quot;I think it&#39;s a very exciting time,&quot; says farmer Darren Salvador, who grows 2,000 acres of wheat and corn near the Colorado-Nebraska border.</p><p>&quot;Can you look at disease concern, insect concern, so now you can be more proactive and treat smaller areas and not treat the entire field,&quot; he says.</p><p>Salvador and about 50 other farmers got an earful from Rory Paul, CEO of <a href="http://www.voltaerialrobotics.com/">Volt Aerial Robotics</a>, a St. Louis-based drone start up.</p><p>&quot;We really don&#39;t know what they&#39;re good for,&quot; Paul says. &quot;We&#39;ve got a few ideas of where they could benefit agriculture. The majority of which are still theoretical.&quot; Theoretical because commercial drone use is still widely banned in the U.S.</p><p>On Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/02/15/386464188/commercial-drone-rules-to-limit-their-speed-and-altitude">released long-awaited draft rules </a>on the operation of pilotless drones, opening the nation&#39;s airspace to the commercial possibilities of the burgeoning technology, but not without restrictions.</p><p>Currently, companies may apply for exemptions from the FAA, but the requirements to get that exemption can be costly. Like requiring drone operators to hold a private pilot&#39;s license.</p><p>&quot;These small drones, that are almost priced to be expensive toys, are not reliable. And that&#39;s the concern of the FAA,&quot; says Eric Frew, who studies drones at the University of Colorado-Boulder.</p><p><a href="http://www.faa.gov/">The FAA </a>didn&#39;t respond to requests for comment for this story, but Frew says the agency is trying to find a balance. Putting a large flying machine in the hands of someone who&#39;s inexperienced can cause big problems.</p><p>&quot;When these systems work, they work fantastically. When they don&#39;t work, they don&#39;t work,&quot; Frew says.</p><p>Back at the corn field in rural Colorado, Agribotix President Tom McKinnon watches as the drone comes in for a landing.</p><p>&quot;So we bash the FAA a lot,&quot; McKinnon says. &quot;I mean the FAA&#39;s job is air safety. And they have delivered on that. But when it comes to drones they&#39;re badly fumbling the ball.&quot;</p><p>McKinnon says until the agency gives solid guidance to commercial drone operators, he&#39;ll be doing most of his work in countries like Australia and Brazil where laws are friendlier to farm drones.</p><p><em><em>&mdash; via <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2015/02/16/385520242/as-rules-get-sorted-out-drones-may-transform-agriculture-industry" target="_blank">NPR&#39;s All Tech Considered</a></em> and <a href="http://harvestpublicmedia.org/">Harvest Public Media</a>, a reporting collaboration that focuses on agriculture and food production.</em></p></p> Mon, 16 Feb 2015 11:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rules-get-sorted-out-drones-may-transform-agriculture-industry-111567 DePaul study calls for end to FAA electronics ban http://www.wbez.org/news/depaul-study-calls-end-faa-electronics-ban-107315 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">More and more airline travelers have their eyes and fingers glued to tablets and e-readers, according to a <a href="http://las.depaul.edu/chaddick/docs/Docs/Tablets_Take_Flight_final.pdf">study</a> released Wednesday from DePaul University, leading authors of the research to call for an end to the ban on electronic devices during takeoffs and landings.</p><p dir="ltr">According to the study out of the university&rsquo;s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, once an airplane has reached the required altitude, more than 35 percent of travelers are switching on electronic devices at any random time during the flight -- up from around 18 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, the growth of tablet or e-reader usage is even higher: The research says one in nine passengers on an airplane are tapping and reading away while traveling.</p><p dir="ltr">Transportation expert and study author Joseph Schwieterman said for the sake of all these tech-savvy travelers and the airlines they fly, the Federal Aviation Administration needs to drop their electronics ban during takeoffs and landings.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You know, airlines are paying big bucks to outfit their airlines with Wi-Fi and some have tablet rental programs and back-of-seat screens you can plug your devices into,&rdquo; Schwieterman said, &ldquo;And those devices on short flights are 50 percent useless because so much of the flight&rsquo;s consumed by the ban.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Schwieterman says the FAA hasn&rsquo;t released any evidence that shows why using these devices could be risky during takeoff or landing. By his numbers, the ban is keeping airline travelers off their electronics for over 100 million hours in 2013.</p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, the FAA says they brought together a group of technical experts, aircraft manufacturers and others from the electronics industry in January to explore which forms of technology could be safe to use. Spokeswoman Alison Duquette said the group should finish their work sometime this summer, then the FAA will review the results.</p><p><em>&mdash;Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer/Reporter web producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Wed, 22 May 2013 15:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/depaul-study-calls-end-faa-electronics-ban-107315 Flight delays pile up Monday after FAA budget cuts http://www.wbez.org/news/flight-delays-pile-monday-after-faa-budget-cuts-106780 <p><p>NEW YORK &mdash; It was a tough start to the week for many air travelers. Flight delays piled up all along the East Coast Monday as thousands of air traffic controllers were forced to take an unpaid day off because of federal budget cuts.</p><p>Some flights into New York, Baltimore and Washington were delayed by more than two hours as the Federal Aviation Administration kept planes on the ground because there weren&#39;t enough controllers to monitor busy air corridors.</p><p>One out of every five flights at New York&#39;s LaGuardia International scheduled to take off before noon on Monday was delayed 15 minutes or more, according to flight tracking service FlightAware. Last Monday morning, just 2 percent of LaGuardia&#39;s flights were delayed. The situation was similar at Washington&#39;s Reagan National Airport, in Newark, N.J. and in Philadelphia.</p><p>Some flights were late by two hours or more.</p><p>For instance, the 8 a.m. US Airways shuttle from Washington to New York pushed back from the gate six minutes early but didn&#39;t take off until 9:58 a.m. The plane landed at 10:48 a.m. &mdash; more than two and a half hours late.</p><p>If travelers instead took Amtrak&#39;s 8 a.m. Acela Express train from Washington, they arrived in New York at 10:42 a.m. &mdash; 4 minutes early.</p><p>The furloughs are part of mandatory budget cuts that kicked in on March 1 after Democrats and Republicans missed a deadline to agree on a long-term deficit reduction plan.</p><p>FAA officials have said they have no choice but to furlough all 47,000 agency employees, including nearly 15,000 air traffic controllers. Each employee will lose one day of work every other week. The FAA has said that planes will have to take off and land less frequently, so as not to overload the remaining controllers on duty.</p><p>Critics have said the FAA could reduce its budget in other spots that wouldn&#39;t delay travelers.</p><p>Monday is typically one of the busiest days at airports with many business travelers setting out for a week on the road. The FAA&#39;s controller cuts &mdash; a 10 percent reduction of its staff &mdash; went into effect Sunday but the full force wasn&#39;t felt until Monday morning.</p><p>Some travel groups have warned that the disruptions could hurt the economy.</p><p>&quot;If these disruptions unfold as predicted, business travelers will stay home, severely impacting not only the travel industry but the economy overall,&quot; the Global Business Travel Association warned the head of the FAA, Michael P. Huerta, in a letter Friday.</p><p>Deborah Seymour was one of the first fliers to face the headaches.</p><p>She was supposed to fly from Los Angles to Tucson, Ariz., Sunday night. First her 9:55 p.m. flight was delayed four hours. Then at 2 a.m., Southwest Airlines canceled it.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s pretty discouraging that Congress can&#39;t get it together and now it&#39;s reached the point that we can&#39;t get on an airplane and fly,&quot; Seymour said.</p><p>One thing working in fliers&#39; favor Monday was relatively good weather at most of the country&#39;s major airports. A few wind gusts in New York added to some delays, but generally there were clear skies and no major storms.</p><p>Delta Air Lines said it was &quot;disappointed&quot; in the furloughs and warned travelers Monday to expect delays in the following cities: New York, Philadelphia, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.</p><p>Many flights heading to Florida were seeing delays of up to an hour.</p><p>Raymond Adams, president of the air traffic controllers union at New Jersey&#39;s Newark airport, said on Twitter than a few flights out of Newark to the south got sent back to Newark because the Washington area air traffic control system was overwhelmed.</p><p>The FAA has also furloughed other critical employees including airline and airport safety inspectors.</p><p>The country&#39;s airlines and some lawmakers have suggested the White House is causing misery for fliers to put pressure on Republicans in Congress to rescind the cuts. They say the FAA is ignoring other ways to cut its $16 billion budget. Two airline trade associations and the nation&#39;s largest pilots union filed a lawsuit Friday asking the U.S. Court of Appeals to halt the furloughs. No hearing date has been set.</p><p>In a letter to the FAA Friday, Delta&#39;s general counsel Ben Hirst asked the agency to reconsider the furloughs, saying it could make the cuts elsewhere and could transfer funds from &quot;non-safety activities&quot; to support the FAA&#39;s &quot;core mission of efficiently managing the nation&#39;s airspace.&quot;</p><p>__</p><p>With reports from Joan Lowy in Washington and Christopher Weber in Los Angeles.</p><p>__</p></p> Mon, 22 Apr 2013 15:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/flight-delays-pile-monday-after-faa-budget-cuts-106780 FAA OKs request to privatize Midway http://www.wbez.org/news/faa-oks-request-privatize-midway-105027 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/airplane.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Federal authorities have given a green light to Chicago to press ahead with plans to privatize Midway International Airport.</p><p>The Federal Aviation Administration says Friday in a statement that the city &quot;can take the next steps to select a private airport operator&quot; after the agency accepted a preliminary application to privatize Chicago&#39;s second largest airport.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel said last month he&#39;s seeking private bidders interested in leasing Midway for up to 40 years. He wants enough cash from the deal to pay off Midway&#39;s roughly $1.4 billion debt. There&#39;d be a split of profits with the private operator.</p><p>Emanuel proposed a panel of City Council members, business leaders and labor representatives to oversee the process.</p><p>He says a &quot;Traveler&#39;s Bill of Rights&quot; would be part of any deal.</p></p> Fri, 18 Jan 2013 14:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/faa-oks-request-privatize-midway-105027 FAA announces temporary flight restrictions during NATO http://www.wbez.org/news/faa-announces-temporary-flight-restrictions-during-nato-98757 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/2960052162_0fe41c4c30_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Federal Aviation Administration says a temporary flight restriction will be in effect over Chicago during the NATO summit, meaning the federal government is able to use "deadly force" against any planes that don't follow those rules.</p><p>When the Department of Homeland security designates something as a "national special security event," airplane traffic is restricted to very specific operations. Commercial planes are fine, but any personal aircraft - or even hang gliders - can't fly in the restricted zone. The same rules follow for the NATO weekend: May 19th to the 21st. Pilots who don't follow the rules could see civil penalties, criminal charges, or even could be shot down by the federal government.</p><p>Lt. Al Blondin is with NORAD, one of the organizations that's responsible for dealing with air threats. He said the FAA will go through multiple procedures before taking drastic action.</p><p>"I'm sure the air traffic controllers are gonna try and contact that plane and talk to them and inform them. It begins at the very lowest levels," he said.</p><p>Blondin says the restrictions are pretty routine, but NORAD will be prepared just in case. Blondin couldn't say exactly where they'll be stationed, just that they'll be on "bases within reach" of Chicago.</p><p>The exact location and times for the temporary flight restriction have yet to be determined, but the announcement said the perimeter will likely contain an outer ring measuring 30 nautical miles and an inner core of about 10 nautical miles.</p></p> Wed, 02 May 2012 09:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/faa-announces-temporary-flight-restrictions-during-nato-98757 Cost of FAA shutdown could exceed $1 billion http://www.wbez.org/story/cost-faa-shutdown-could-exceed-1-billion-89975 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-02/AP11072815528.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The congressional standoff that has shut down&nbsp;the Federal Aviation Administration continues, with no end in sight&nbsp;until September if the Senate doesn't act this week.</p><p>Lawmakers risk losing more than $1 billion in revenue from&nbsp;ticket taxes that the airline collects. The authority to collect&nbsp;those taxes has expired. House Republicans say the sticking point&nbsp;is their demand that the Senate cut $16.5 million from a $200 million budget for rural air service subsidies.&nbsp;</p><p>The shutdown is less than two weeks old and already the&nbsp;government has lost more than $250 million in revenue.</p><p>The House has left for its August recess. The Senate is expected&nbsp;to follow this week. Lost revenue from uncollected airline ticket&nbsp;taxes could exceed $1.2 billion before lawmakers return to work in&nbsp;September.</p></p> Tue, 02 Aug 2011 15:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cost-faa-shutdown-could-exceed-1-billion-89975 Illinois Republians, Democrats differ over FAA bill http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-republians-democrats-differ-over-faa-bill-89612 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-25/AP100324045382.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Thousands of contractors have been ordered to stop work on airport construction projects Monday. Congressmen from Illinois continue to disagree over legislation needed to put those workers back to work.</p><p>The Federal Aviation Administration's operating authority expired Friday night after the House and Senate couldn't agree on a bill to extend it. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said he tried to pass a temporary version of the bill, but Republicans objected.</p><p>"This political brinksmanship may be somebody's idea of a victory," Durbin said Monday. "It's my idea of a defeat for workers across America and for the maintenance and the construction of new airport facilities."</p><p>But Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) said his chamber is being proactive, passing a plan that Senate Democrats don't support.</p><p>"What they're doing is they're just kicking the can down the road another couple months each time that this happens," he said.</p><p>O'Hare Airports's modernization program is not expected to be affected by the work stoppage yet. But the FAA said the $1.5 million re-paving of a Chicago parking lot won't happen until Congress reaches an agreement.</p></p> Mon, 25 Jul 2011 19:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-republians-democrats-differ-over-faa-bill-89612 LaHood announces federal funding for new O'Hare control tower http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago/lahood-announces-federal-funding-new-ohare-control-tower <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//106461867.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Federal Aviation Administration is committing $3.4 million to the design of a new air traffic control tower at O'Hare Airport.</p><p>U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the grant for the design of a South Air Traffic Control Tower, as part of the O'Hare Modernization Program. He was joined by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.</p><p>Durbin called the airport an &quot;economic engine&quot; and said the funding will lead to as many as 195,000 new jobs. &quot;For those of us who are anxious to bring jobs to Illinois and keep the jobs we have, we understand that O'Hare is literally the central nervous system,&quot; Durbin said. &quot;It is basically what we need to focus on in terms of building the strength of this local economy.&quot;</p><p>LaHood said the Department of Transportation also wants to help pay for construction of the tower. &quot;Safety is our number-one priority, and that's what this tower is about,&quot; said LaHood.</p><p>Officials said the tower will be built in time for the opening of a new runway in 2015.</p></p> Mon, 15 Nov 2010 18:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago/lahood-announces-federal-funding-new-ohare-control-tower High schools near O'Hare get cash to curb noise http://www.wbez.org/story/brendan-mclaughlin/high-schools-near-ohare-get-cash-curb-noise <p><p>Two high schools near Chicago's O'Hare airport will get funding to insulate their buildings from screeching airplanes.<br /><br />The Federal Aviation Administration says Ridgewood and Elk Grove High School will receive between 20 and 30 million dollars for noise mitigation.<br /><br />Brendan McLaughlin directs the O'Hare Noise Compatibility Commission. &quot;Ridgewood High School on some days when theres takeoffs on that runway they can get a flight literally every minute, every minute and a half. They're so close that the noise really makes a difference,&quot;&nbsp;McLaughlin said.</p><p>McLaughlin says preliminary design plans for the schools will take close to six months.<br /><br />The FAA says it will pay roughly 80 percent of the insulation cost and the city of Chicago will cover the rest.</p></p> Fri, 05 Nov 2010 19:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/brendan-mclaughlin/high-schools-near-ohare-get-cash-curb-noise