Salt Lake City airspace plan seen squeezing GA

March 9, 2011

AOPA has submitted comments to the FAA on the proposed modification of Class B airspace around Salt Lake City, Utah, expressing concerns about the impact on general aviation pilots’ ability to overfly and transition the airspace.

Members are encouraged to study the plan and submit comments by March 15. The current comment period presents an opportunity for airspace users to help shape the future dimensions of the Class B airspace. The FAA recently concluded a series of informational meetings on the proposed airspace modifications.

In comments submitted March 9, AOPA opposed raising Salt Lake City’s Class B airspace from 10,000 feet mean sea level (msl) to 12,000 feet msl without accounting for the impact on VFR aircraft. The ceiling height change was proposed to better contain instrument arrivals and departures.

AOPA pointed out that the change would reduce availability of airspace for visual overflights of the Class B airspace, and that the design conflicts with an FAA order requiring that IFR traffic aircraft “enter/exit the top of Class B instead of the side of Class B,” wrote Tom Kramer, AOPA manager of air traffic services. With even a modestly higher ceiling in place, more aircraft would be forced to fly inefficient routes around the airspace at lower altitudes, he said.

AOPA suggested that a collaborative effort between the FAA and airspace users be initiated to develop transiting alternatives such as VFR flyways, transition routes, and T-routes.

AOPA also called for changing the proposed Class B airspace over the area of Francis Peak to the northeast. That floor should be no lower than 10,500 as opposed to the 10,000 feet the FAA proposed because the area’s minimum vectoring altitude is 10,600 feet msl and IFR aircraft operating between 10,000 and 12,000 feet in the area would be exited out the side of the Class B airspace.

AOPA submitted its comments after soliciting input from area Airport Support Network volunteers and the local pilots.

Please submit your comments in triplicate by March 15 to John Warner, Manager, Operations Support Group AJV-W2, Western Service Center, Air Traffic Organization, Federal Aviation Administration, 1601 Lind Avenue, Renton, WA  98057.  Please also share your comments with AOPA.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz | Aviation Writer

Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.