Charlotte Class B expansion threatens skydiving operation

February 11, 2009

Skydiving in 'squirrel suits'Expansion of Class B airspace over Charlotte, N.C., as proposed by the FAA, would threaten operations at Chester Regional Airport, AOPA Air Traffic Services Manager Pete Lehmann has told the agency. The airport is home to the area’s largest skydiving operation, which may be forced to relocate.

Lehmann said in formal comments on the proposal that the FAA should instead change the arrival procedures into Charlotte International Airport to avoid an economic impact on Chester Regional Airport. Such changes are minor and would not prove more costly for airlines, he said.

Even if skydiving operations do not move, safety is compromised by the new airspace restrictions, Lehmann said.

“In light of higher fuel costs, environmental and noise sensitivities, and impacts to the general aviation community, the FAA should modify local procedures to allow aircraft on arrival into Charlotte International Airport to maintain a higher altitude, farther out, and create more of a constant rate descent,” Lehmann said. “This will not only provide for a more efficient system, but will also prevent further extensions of the Class B airspace in the future, as traffic volume increases.”

AOPA plans to meet soon with FAA and Chester Regional Airport officials to discuss alternatives to expanding Class B airspace over the airport.

Al Marsh

Alton K. Marsh | "AOPA Pilot" Senior Editor, AOPA

AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.