November 18, 2010
By Dan Namowitz
The FAA has published the final rule enacting modifications to the Class B airspace around Charlotte/Douglas International Airport effective Jan. 13, 2011. The modifications mainly affect airspace north and south of the airport, facilitating arrivals and departures from the airport’s three parallel north-south runways.
Following up on comments on the airspace reconfiguration during the informal airspace meetings and the notice of proposed rulemaking phase of the process, AOPA continues to call for the FAA to demonstrate its commitment to the use of T-routes, which were designed to help GPS-equipped IFR general aviation aircraft transition through Class B and C airspace.
In the Charlotte area, users have not realized the benefit of T-routes being available.
“T-routes are an extremely important step in modernizing the en route airspace, and AOPA has been a major advocate for these RNAV routes since early in 2000. In fact, Charlotte was the first to receive such routes. Unfortunately, air traffic control typically reroutes pilots well around the Charlotte Class B airspace, even when they had been previously cleared on the T-route,” said Tom Kramer, AOPA manager of air traffic services.
The FAA has acknowledged the difficulty pilots were having using Charlotte area T-routes but has offered no plans to pursue a solution--such as modified or new T-routes. “Despite the FAA making RNAV routing a top priority, AOPA is forced to question the FAA’s commitment to utilization and implementation of efficient and useful T-routes, given the lack of commitment to addressing the problems at Charlotte,” Kramer said. “T-routes were intended as a mechanism to help IFR GA traffic transit busy metroplex airspace, but that benefit is clearly not being realized in certain locations.”
AOPA wants to hear from members about their experience when flying on T-routes in any airspace where they are available. How often do you use them? Have you been rerouted off the T-routes, routinely or otherwise? Please e-mail your comments to AOPA.
AOPA also expressed concerns about the impact of the airspace revisions on skydiving operations at Chester Catawba Regional airport. The FAA is now working with the business to develop a letter of agreement that would allow skydiving operations to continue.
The airspace changes take effect at 0901Z on Jan. 13, 2011, and will be depicted on charts effective at that time.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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