May 14, 2013
By Benét J. Wilson
The FAA has published a final rule modifying the Philadelphia Class B airspace area effective July 25, despite AOPA recommendations that were not adopted in the final design. The modified airspace configuration will align with the Washington, D.C., and the extended New York VFR charts.
In its comments submitted on Sept. 27, 2012, AOPA acknowledged minor changes the FAA adopted as a result of pilot input during public meetings on the airspace redesign. But 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.
AOPA is particularly concerned about the northeastern shelf, as this airspace currently serves as an unofficial VFR flyway. “Currently, aircraft transiting from the north and south are able to avoid both Class B airspace and McGuire Alert Area (A-220) by utilizing this airspace. As such, this area is already heavily congested with bi-directional VFR traffic so we urge pilots to become familiar with this new design and use caution when transiting this area,” wrote Melissa McCaffrey, AOPA senior government analyst.
The complexity and lack of VFR landmarks, along with various floor heights, have created an overly complex Class B airspace area that pilots will find difficult to transit and may lead to inadvertent airspace incursions. AOPA urges members transiting this area to become familiar with the changes and use extra caution as the airspace changes go into effect on July 25.
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