FAA ignores GA users in Phoenix Class B redesign

February 13, 2007

FAA ignores GA users in Phoenix Class B redesign

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Redesigning Class B airspace is like trying to reshape an iceberg. One wrong move and somebody can get crushed. So why isn't the FAA listening to the airspace users who know all the contours?

A complex proposal surfaced Monday. The Phoenix Tracon has been pushing to change its Class B airspace. Back in July, AOPA presented a simpler plan - one that was supported widely by the aviation community - but the FAA ignored it in the published document.

"It's not totally surprising, but at the same time it's extremely frustrating," said Heidi Williams, AOPA director of air traffic services. "On top of that, they're talking about moving an important flyway without providing specifics."

The tracon said it was concerned about alleged traffic conflicts between airliners descending for landing at Sky Harbor Airport and GA traffic using an established VFR flyway east of the airport. Instead of heeding the GA user's plan, the FAA wants to move the flyway. But where?

"I've already contacted the FAA," Williams said. "We need more details."

The GA user's plan would align many of the sectors with ground features or navaids, making it much easier for pilots to locate sector boundaries and remain in the appropriate airspace. The tracon plan would create a much more complex airspace, most likely leading to more inadvertent incursions.

While AOPA does support the FAA's intent of lowering the ceiling of the Class B airspace from 10,000 to 9,000 feet, AOPA is concerned about control issues regarding Falcon Field's Class D airspace. And lowering part of the floor east of Phoenix would compress traffic over noise-sensitive areas or force pilots to climb over higher terrain.

"We need to be good neighbors, but we also need to ensure safety," Williams added.

February 13, 2007