January 2, 2014
By Dan Namowitz
Satellite navigation offers great efficiency for terminal airspace routings—but the FAA’s use of the technology to date has not always improved on existing Victor airway-based transitions. To address the emerging need, the agency should convene a user committee to help create a system-wide policy for implementing RNAV terminal routes (T-routes), AOPA said.
A policy to guide the design of routes leading from airways to terminals would improve sometimes restrictive pilot access to T-routes by encouraging increased use of the routings by air traffic controllers—an issue AOPA members believe needs the FAA’s attention, said Tom Kramer, AOPA manager of airspace and modernization.
T-route design especially needs to refocus on efficiency—the single most important gain expected of the emerging satellite navigation system, he said.
"Simply overlaying a T-route on a Victor route does not leverage the efficiencies of satellite navigation, doesn’t account for airspace boundary changes, and is less efficient and unsustainable over the long term," he said.
Currently, the FAA has rulemaking proposals to amend airspace pending—all now in the comment-taking phase—with elements demonstrating the need for a system-wide approach to T-route implementation.
In Charlotte, N.C., the FAA has proposed, under its Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in a Metroplex (OAPM) initiative, implementation of two new T-routes, modification of three others, and removal of one T-route. For years, pilots flying in Charlotte-area airspace have reported that T-routes have been difficult to obtain in clearances. The FAA is accepting comments on the proposal, which is intended to provide additional routing options and enhance controllers’ use of T-routes, by Feb. 3.
In Chicago, the FAA is proposing to modify an existing route, T-265, to minimize radio frequency changes and controller handoffs currently required during flight along the segment. Comments are being accepted through Feb.10.
In Indiana, where the Huntingburg VOR is being decommissioned, its removal will require the modification of a portion of V243. A route segment will be replaced by T-325 under a proposal open for comments until Feb. 10.
AOPA will submit comments on all three notices of proposed rulemaking. The association also will advocate for the FAA to form a stakeholder panel to assist in developing a policy and strategy for transitioning from Victor airways to T-routes in light of the emerging need, Kramer said.
Members are encouraged to submit comments on the individual NPRMs, and on the need for the FAA to devise an airway transition policy. Please share your comments with AOPA.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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