Pilots flying in the Mid-Atlantic region this week began hearing a new call sign from air traffic controllers. After five years of planning, development, and construction, Dulles radar approach personnel have moved into the new Potomac consolidated tracon (terminal radar approach control) and are using the Potomac Approach/Departure call sign. For pilots, the new call sign is the only change; frequencies and sectors remain the same.
"The new tracon will improve communication and should lead to better general aviation access to Washington-area airspace," said Melissa K. Bailey, AOPA vice president of air traffic. "AOPA was involved in many of the scoping and planning meetings and advocated for more general aviation routes."
Although the Baltimore-Washington Class B won't change immediately, plans for the Potomac Tracon call for more GA routes through the airspace, more overflight routes, and more direct south and east routes.
Over the next five months, radar approach controllers from Andrews, Baltimore, Richmond, and Reagan/National will transition to the new facility, consolidating the five centers that control most of the airspace over Maryland and Virginia.
Sometime after the transitions are complete, pilots should expect a redesign of the Class B airspace around the Baltimore, Md./Washington, D.C. area.