Plan for resuming VFR flights in enhanced Class B airspace

October 10, 2001

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has developed the following plan for the resumption of visual flight rule (VFR) operations in "enhanced" Class B (ECB) airspace.

The need for VFR flying in the 30 areas of ECB airspace includes:

  • 90 percent of all general aviation operations are VFR
  • 282 airports are affected by the ECB
  • 22 million annual operations occur at the affected airports
  • 41,000 aircraft are located at airports inside ECB
  • 120,000 pilots operate at airports inside ECB
  • Fixed cost of aircraft ownership continues to accrue (principle/interest, insurance, hangar/tiedown, annual maintenance inspection)
  • Aviation businesses at affected airports are facing bankruptcy

AOPA recommends the following operational requirements for VFR operations in ECB airspace:

  • Limited to aircraft weighing 6,000 pounds or less gross takeoff weight
  • Exiting (egress) ECB from an affected airport is limited to the most direct path
  • Entering (ingress) ECB to land at an affected airport is limited to the most direct path
  • Monitor VHF frequency 121.5 on all flights in ECB when not in communication with air traffic control (ATC)
  • Operations in ECB would require three universally applied transponder codes:
    • Outbound from an affected airport
    • Inbound to an affected airport
    • Local pattern work at an affected airport
  • Non-transponder-equipped aircraft operations are permitted and required to meet all of the above requirements except for a working transponder

In addition to the airspace-based recommendations, AOPA offers the following enhancements to permit certain specialty operations currently not permitted to operate VFR in ECB airspace.

These specialty operations require strict adherence to the following procedures at all times while inside ECB airspace:

  • Receive approval for route or activity prior to conducting any operation
  • ATC-assigned discrete beacon code (squawk) for each flight
  • Maintain communication with ATC at all times
  • Clearance required to operate within the ECB airspace

Additional procedures for each specific activity type are also listed below:

Airborne traffic reporting

  • One aircraft permitted to operate in each geographical area (e.g., southwest quadrant of city)
  • No deviations from approved route
  • Limit occupants to essential crew (reporter and pilot)

Airborne news reporting

  • Maximum of five minutes at any one location
  • Establish procedures whereby aircraft can depart ECB immediately when required by ATC
  • Limit occupants to essential crew (reporter, photographer, and pilot)

Banner towing

  • One aircraft may operate in each geographical area at a time
  • No deviations from approved route

Aerial surveying

  • Pre-coordination should include stated reason for survey
  • Government contract work coordinated with ATC through contracting office of authorizing agency