'My way or the airway'

February 2, 2006

'My way or the airway'
Phoenix airspace redesign on a fast track bypassing users

The FAA has just announced public meetings to discuss proposed changes to the Phoenix Class B airspace. But the agency has jumped the gun, as far as AOPA and many of the people who fly in the Valley of the Sun are concerned.

"The ad hoc airspace user's group hasn't finished its work yet, but the tracon manager is determined to push ahead," said Heidi Williams, AOPA director of air traffic services. "The user group process has been well proven in other complex airspace, such as the Los Angeles Basin. The desire for a speedy decision may overrun an optimum decision that works well for all users."

In fact, the current proposed airspace design is too complex and seems to be biased against general aviation users, according to some participants in the ad hoc group.

Many airspace boundaries will no longer be aligned with VFR reference points (such as easily identifiable highways) or based on common navigation aids. Other changes would push VFR traffic up against the Superstition Mountains.

"The user group willingly made concessions and agreed that some airspace changes were necessary to accommodate airline operations into Sky Harbor airport," said ad hoc user group participant Stacy Howard, AOPA Western Region representative. "But except for lowering the Class B ceiling to 9,000 feet, the FAA has been unwilling to respond to GA needs and concerns."

Informal public meetings on the proposed Phoenix Class B changes are scheduled for April 25, April 27, and May 2. Written comments must be received by June 3. ( Read the notice.)

"We hope the FAA is more responsive to the input from general aviation at these meetings than they have been so far to the user group process," said Williams.

February 2, 2006