AOPA calls proposed DC T-routes missed opportunity

May 8, 2013

The FAA’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to establish T-routes west of the Washington, D.C., Class B metroplex fails to address the real issues of access or efficiency, according to AOPA.

The NPRM is part of the optimization of airspace and procedures in a metroplex (OAPM) effort that AOPA has been participating on for more than a year. The Washington, D.C., metroplex was one of the first.

“The proposed T-routes are so circuitous that it is unlikely that any pilot would use them. Pilots don’t have a problem circumnavigating Class B—they do it already,” said Tom Kramer, AOPA manager of airspace and modernization. “What we need are T-routes through the Class B—one of the primary reasons T-routes were originally established, designed in concert with other instrument procedures to deconflict the operations. In a time of fiscal crisis, it doesn’t make sense for the FAA to continue with rulemaking that doesn’t fix or improve access, safety, or efficiency.”

RNAV routes were originally designed to provide more direct and expeditious routing alternatives to ground-based navigation aids—a benefit that disappears when the route adds mileage and fuel burn beyond the existing routing structure.

For years, AOPA has advocated for T-routes through Class B airspace to improve access and efficiency for general aviation. “However, the proposed T-routes circumnavigate the Class B so far that pilots will instead file victor airways, because it would be shorter, faster, and more economical,” said Kramer.

“We also have a concern that as VORs are decommissioned, we will start to lose the few victor routes we have through Class B airspace areas, including several in the D.C. metroplex,” said Kramer. “As we transition to satellite-based navigation, we cannot sacrifice access and efficiency. If T-routes are only being established outside of Class B, general aviation will lose access and efficiency, which is not acceptable.”

AOPA is reviewing the NPRM and soliciting member input. “We will be submitting comments seeking significant modifications to the proposed routes,” said Kramer.

Members are also encouraged to file comments on the proposed routes. Comments must be received by June 13. Submit them to the FAA here, and copy AOPA.

Benét Wilson

Benét J. Wilson | AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor

AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.