FAA grants request for more Chicago airspace meetings

December 19, 2008

The FAA has agreed to offer two additional meetings about proposed changes to the Chicago Class B airspace following a request from AOPA. The agency also agreed to extend the comment deadline to March 30, 2009, to allow more pilots to be heard.

AOPA had requested the informal meetings and deadline extension after the FAA inadvertently published the wrong location addresses for two of the three original public meetings. AOPA argued that the mistake reduced the number of pilots in attendance and prevented the FAA from hearing the full range of community concerns about the airspace plan.

AOPA also asked the FAA to change the meeting format from an “open house” style to a format that would include an FAA presentation followed by group discussion of the proposed airspace changes.

The additional meetings will be held Feb. 23, 2009, at 1 p.m. at Lewis University, Harold E. White Aviation Center and Feb. 26, 2009, at 5 p.m. at DuPage Flight Center at Chicago DuPage Airport.

AOPA already has filed formal comments on the plan, questioning the need for such a large expansion of the eastern half of the Class B airspace when data presented by the FAA to an ad hoc committee of airspace users indicated the need for a smaller airspace area. AOPA also has expressed concerns about an FAA plan to lower the floor for an extension of the airspace to the west—a move that could compress arriving traffic and create safety hazards. Finally, AOPA questioned the need for a 10,000-foot ceiling for the Class B airspace, noting that other busy terminal areas, including New York City Class B and Boston Class B, both use ceilings of 7,000 feet.