FAA finds reasonable solution to Cape Cod summer air traffic jam

May 15, 2003

The FAA in New England is calling on pilots to help alleviate air traffic congestion in the vicinity of Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard. Rather than trying to turn Nantucket's Class D airspace into more restrictive Class C (a move AOPA fought hard against the last time it was proposed), the FAA instead has instituted a more reasonable air traffic management plan for IFR traffic.

"AOPA is pleased to see the FAA looking for alternatives to traditional rulemaking to deal with seasonal traffic congestion around the cape and islands," said AOPA Manager of Air Traffic Heidi Williams. "The initiatives being considered provide for immediate relief using existing resources in a more practical approach, rather than establishing new Class C airspace."

The letter from Cape Tracon, the radar facility that covers that entire area, says, "The combination of IFR weather conditions and increases in the demand for air traffic services will sometimes cause a significant delay in your ability to obtain an IFR clearance to Nantucket (ACK), Martha's Vineyard (MVY), or Hyannis (HYA) airports." It goes on to explain the traffic management plans it intends to use and warns that air-filed IFR clearances may not be possible during peak activity times.

Cape Tracon plans to use a special traffic management program (STMP) to issue slot reservations for IFR traffic during times when traffic volume is expected to exceed Nantucket's arrival capacity.

AOPA attended a briefing hosted by the FAA to discuss concerns about the STMP and was assured that the program would be used as little as possible. However, notification that slot reservations will be required could go out as late as 1800 local the night before the STMP is to be implemented. AOPA advises pilots planning to fly to Nantucket to check them on the morning of their flights to see if the slot reservation system has been activated.

03-2-119x