January 17, 2013
By Jim Moore
The FAA has granted more time for pilots to comment on a proposed reconfiguration of the Las Vegas Class B airspace that could prove particularly problematic for piston pilots.
The FAA, noting AOPA’s objection to closing a 30-day comment window on Dec. 26, 2012, has extended to Feb. 13 the deadline to comment on a notice of proposed rulemaking that would include increasing the Class B ceiling from 9,000 to 10,000 feet msl.
In formal comments on the proposed reconfiguration, AOPA argued there is “no clear justification” for that particular change, which would adversely impact general aviation operators seeking to transit above the Class B airspace. The high density altitude typical for the area makes climbing above 10,000 feet impractical for many GA aircraft, and climbing above or routing around the Class B airspace costs time and fuel.
AOPA also notes that a dedicated website created to help inform pilots about the details has not been updated since July 2011; and while the intent of the site was initially welcomed, failure to keep the information current now deters participation in the process by confronting pilots with outdated and conflicting information. The FAA has, so far, ignored requests to update that website.
AOPA has welcomed constructive steps already taken, including the establishment of VFR waypoints to facilitate navigation. That step clears the way for new VFR transition routes, which could ease the burden on GA operations while enhancing efficiency and safety--the primary goals of the reconfiguration.
Pilots are urged to weigh in on the proposed changes, and comments may be submitted online or by 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. Commenters must reference FAA Docket No. FAA–2012–0966 and Airspace Docket No. 12–AWA–5; those submitting comments are asked to share a copy of any submissions with AOPA.
AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
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Under a current Washington law, only 10 percent of the aircraft excise taxes that aircraft owners pay go to the Washington State Division of Aeronautics, while the other 90 percent go into the general fund. AOPA is advocating for legislation that would direct 100 percent of the tax to aviation use.
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