GPS routing increases airspace efficiency

January 7, 2009

Pilots flying aircraft equipped with IFR-certified GPS receivers can enjoy hassle-free routing around, or even through, many congested areas in the United States.

Area navigation (RNAV) routes, also called T-routes, are based on GPS navigation. The routes can offer lower altitude minimums for Victor airways that are limited by ground-based navigation systems, which is beneficial for general aviation pilots flying IFR. The lower altitudes could allow IFR pilots to fly below freezing levels.

The latest area to receive a T-route is Houston. Pilots can begin filing T-254 on March 12. The route runs from Lake Charles, La., to Austin, passing to the north of Houston’s airspace.

The FAA also is planning to establish T-265 along the western side of the Chicago Class B airspace. The route would allow pilots flying north and south to fly around the airspace over land. Pilots can learn more about the proposed T-route and how to submit comments in this Federal Register notice. The comment deadline is Feb. 9.

AOPA has been working with the FAA for almost a decade to chart and implement T-routes. The association will continue to advocate for additional routes that would benefit pilots as the transition to satellite navigation continues.

T-routes already are making travel more efficient in Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati; Jacksonville, Fla.; Outer Banks, N.C.; Los Angeles; Augusta, Ga.; St. Louis, Mo.; San Francisco/Sacramento; and Portland, Ore. A new route is currently in the works in southwestern Oregon.