Detroit Class B airspace revision burdens GA

Members can weigh in by Oct. 15

October 11, 2012

The FAA’s proposed redesign of Class B airspace in Detroit, Mich., makes some concessions to user feedback, but retains basic features that would impose major burdens and add risk for many general aviation operations, AOPA said in a regulatory filing.

AOPA submitted formal comments Oct.10 on the notice of proposed rulemaking for the modification of the Class B airspace centered on Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. The association urges members to act on the final opportunity to comment by an Oct. 15 deadline (see below for instructions).

As AOPA reported on Aug. 14, the association objects to an unjustified increase in the Class B ceiling from 8,000 feet mean sea level to 10,000 feet msl, an extended lateral boundary from 25 nautical miles to 30 nm, and varying sector floor altitudes.

The higher ceiling would greatly decrease the ability of pilots to overfly the airspace under visual flight rules, AOPA said. In the proposal, the FAA claims that “the intent of the increased ceiling is to maintain segregation of large turbine aircraft from their VFR counterparts primarily during potential future triple Precision Runway Monitoring (PRM) Simultaneous Instrument Landing System (SILS) approaches. However it does not appear the FAA has exhausted their evaluation of techniques to contain these triple PRM SILS approaches at ranges beyond 25 nm prior to requesting additional airspace for them,” wrote Melissa McCaffrey, AOPA senior government analyst for air traffic services.

In one shelf of Class B airspace, the design’s 4,000-foot msl floor would curtail the usefulness of a flight training practice area based on the FAA’s own training standards, causing further congestion in another practice area, she wrote.

Varying Class B floor altitudes add risk to the airspace by raising the potential for pilot confusion and potential airspace incursions, she added.

“AOPA encourages the FAA to mitigate these areas of concern to ensure the most effective, efficient and safe modification to the Detroit Class B airspace area,” said McCaffrey.

She urged members to review the proposal and submit comments before Oct. 15 online or by mail to Docket Operations, M-30, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Rm W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington D.C. 20590-0001. Please cite FAA Docket No. FAA–2012–0661 and Airspace Docket No. 09–AWA–4, at the beginning of your comments.

Please share your comments with AOPA.