FAA alters, adds routes for Alaska air travel
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Ralph Gibbs of Angel Aviation first got the flying bug when he was 19 years old and behind the wheel of a hot rod.
“Literally. I was driving my GTO by the time my draft number came up. That’s what got me into aviation, military aviation in particular,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs loves flying for one reason.
“My need for speed,” Gibbs said.
Now flying enthusiasts and pilots like Gibbs will have a safer way to soar Alaska’s skies with new GPS-guided flight routes established by the Federal Aviation Administration.
“They use newer GPS technology and they allow precise flight paths for pilots that allow them to fly more direct paths in Alaska,” the FAA’s Mike O’Hare said of the changes.
The FAA has established 30 new GPS guided routes, in addition to updating 24 existing routes to help pilots fly at a lower altitude to avoid icing conditions.
It’s part of the Alaska Aviation Safety Initiative that was launched by the FAA in October 2020. Through the initiative, the FAA learned that development of terminal transition routes known as “T-routes” was one of the most asked for recommendations.
“With the GPS system, the pilots can fly lower to the ground, below the freezing level and still have the same precision navigation capability,” Gibbs said.
“So they can have the same navigation down low to the ground, below the freezing level.”
Additionally, the routes give pilots a better idea of where the obstacles are located during their flight path.
“These T-Routes as opposed to a low altitude L route, or a high altitude high route, these T-routes are more precise they will allow the pilots to fly lower and snake in and around these mountains lower and etcetera,” Gibbs said.
The FAA said the changes will enhance safety for pilots in Alaska.
“So being able to fly very precise routes at lower altitudes to avoid icing conditions is critical to aviation safety here in Alaska,” O’Hare said.
The added safety measures make pilots like Gibbs very happy.
“It makes me feel great. I love flying. Safety is paramount. There is so many things to make flying safe and this is one of them,” Gibbs said.
The FAA also said it in the process of developing T-Routes that would replace low and medium frequency airways. That is expected happen within the next three years.
Currently, 13 of the routes have been activated. The FAA plans to have another 20 ready by November, while the remainder are expected to begin use in 2023.
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