FAA urged to simplify Philadelphia Class B airspace plan

September 27, 2012

The FAA has responded positively to some user concerns about the proposed redesign of Class B airspace centered on Philadelphia International Airport, but still must mitigate safety hazards and unnecessary complexity, AOPA said in a regulatory filing.

AOPA submitted formal comments on the airspace plan Sept. 27, and encourages pilots to provide comments for the record by an Oct. 1 deadline.

AOPA acknowledged FAA responses to recommendations made during public meetings on the airspace redesign. However, the association continued to call on the agency to mitigate other concerns including an incursion hazard that could result from two proposed Class B airspace shelves from 4,000 feet msl to 7,000 feet msl in the northeast and southwest areas of the airspace. Especially in the northeast section, the reconfiguration would further compress congested airspace used by transiting pilots to avoid the Class B airspace, wrote Melissa McCaffrey, AOPA senior government analyst.

“This creates a safety of flight issue with a large amount of traffic within a confined area,” she wrote.

AOPA emphasized the importance of the Class B airspace including a VFR flyway wide enough to contain bi-directional traffic between the outermost Class B boundary and an alert area near the eastern boundary.

Varying heights of Class B floors around several satellite airports also pose a risk of inadvertent airspace penetration. “Aircraft departing the Class D airspace have the potential to find themselves at the boundary of Class B airspace upon departure with no clear landmarks indicating where it begins,” McCaffrey wrote.

Pilots should submit comments by Oct. 1 online or my mail to U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M– 30, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, Washington, DC 20590–0001. Please cite FAA Docket No. FAA–2012–0662 and Airspace Docket No. 08–AWA–2, at the beginning of your comments.

Please also share your comments with AOPA.