Concerns surface over proposed changes to Atlanta airspace

April 1, 2010

The FAA should consider measures to mitigate the impact that a proposed redesign of the Atlanta Class B airspace could have on general aviation, AOPA told the agency in a letter March 31.

The FAA’s proposed revisions would decrease the radius of the airspace from 42 nautical miles to 30 nm but lower its floor in many sectors, impacting GA operations beneath the airspace. The agency consulted pilots and the aviation industry in an ad hoc committee and a series of informal public meetings. Pilots have until April 3 to submit comments. The FAA will publish its proposal after weighing public input.

AOPA submitted formal comments providing alternatives that would mitigate the impact to airports underlying proposed Class B airspace. The association will submit further comments on the proposal when it is published.

“AOPA supports the FAA’s proposal to shrink the outermost ring of the Class B airspace, but other proposed changes to the airspace could negatively impact general aviation operations,” said AOPA Manager of Air Traffic Services Tom Kramer. “This impact could be minimized with modifications such as adding T-routes or VFR flyways and using visual landmarks to identify the airspace boundaries.”

A lower floor for the airspace would compress VFR and IFR traffic, which could decrease efficiency and introduce conflict between airports and their neighboring communities, Kramer said. AOPA is requesting that the FAA include T-routes and VFR flyways as transition routing options with the proposed changes to mitigate the impact on metroplex operations and transiting traffic.

Potential resolutions include increasing the east-west corridor floor north of Atlanta by a minimum of 1,000 feet or providing a cutout around DeKalb-Peachtree Airport to reduce the impact on that airport. Under the proposal the FAA has discussed with the public, departures from DeKalb-Peachtree would be restricted to lower altitudes for extended periods of time, a restriction that could raise concerns from the surrounding community.

AOPA has also expressed concern about a few areas of the proposal, which could lead to confusion over the boundaries among some GA pilots and increase the risk of airspace incursions. Such confusion can be alleviated by the use and charting of visual landmarks to identify Class B boundaries.

Pilots may submit input on the Class B redesign online.