Charlotte Class B redesign must not overlook GA<br>

April 29, 2010

The FAA’s proposed redesign of the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport Class B airspace to better contain traffic should be amended to mitigate impacts to general aviation, AOPA has pointed out in its formal comments on the proposal.

The association has requested a 2-nautical-mile cutout for Chester Catawba Regional Airport in Chester, S.C., located 25 nm southwest of Charlotte. The airport, which currently is located outside the airspace, would fall under the expanded Class B area and would be subject to economic and operational hardships. AOPA is concerned that it would negatively impact the airport’s skydiving operation, which is the largest in the area.

“A cutout around the airport would alleviate much of this burden while still meeting the FAA’s goal of containing Charlotte traffic within Class B airspace,” said Tom Kramer, AOPA manager of air traffic services. AOPA had expressed its concerns about the impact the redesign would have on the GA airport during early meetings about the proposal.

In addition to creating a cutout for Chester Catawba Regional, AOPA has recommended that the ceiling of the Class B airspace be lowered from 10,000 feet msl to 7,000 feet msl. This would allow more GA aircraft to fly over the airspace that would otherwise have remained largely vacant. The lower Class B ceiling is currently being used around the Philadelphia, Boston, and New York City metropolitan areas.

Another efficiency that AOPA pointed out was the re-evaluation and possible redesign of T-routes through the Charlotte airspace. The current T-routes, which allow pilots flying GPS-equipped aircraft on instrument flight plans to fly around or through Class B and Class C airspace areas, have been in place since September 2005. Enhancing the routes could lead to reduced controller and pilot workload, better traffic flow, and safer operations, AOPA said.

The FAA is accepting comments on the Charlotte Class B redesign until May 3. Comments can be submitted online by searching for “FAA-2010-0049.”