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Five-year AOPA effort leads to better IFR routes for pilotsFive-year AOPA effort leads to better IFR routes for pilots

Five-year AOPA effort leads to better IFR routes for pilots

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A five-year AOPA advocacy effort has paid off in more efficient routes through busy terminal airspace for IFR pilots. AOPA has been working with the FAA and the Aeronautical Charting Forum to get better general aviation access through airspace around busy airports since March 2000.

On Thursday, the FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) establishing the first four charted "RNAV IFR Terminal Transition Routes" (RITTRs) through the Charlotte, North Carolina, Class B airspace. Similar routes are expected to be charted soon for Jacksonville, Florida, and Cincinnati.

What that means for en route IFR pilots is the end to many of the ATC-directed detours around Class B terminal areas. "RNAV routes reduce the cost of flying and provide aircraft owners more benefits from their IFR-certified GPS receivers," said Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory policy. "If the FAA expects us to transition to GPS navigation, we need to see routes in every terminal airspace area."

According to the FAA's NPRM, "AOPA stated that RNAV airways would facilitate more direct routing than are possible with the current federal airway system and would provide pilots with easier access through terminal airspace. In addition, AOPA [has] promoted the expanded use of RNAV airways throughout the National Airspace System (NAS) to exploit the benefits and capabilities of RNAV."

The new terminal routes will be charted on low-altitude en route charts (L-charts) and designated with a T and a three-digit number. They will be similar to Victor airways, including minimum en route altitudes. And just as with a Victor airway, RITTRs may be an acceptable route for VFR pilots transitioning the area at the appropriate VFR altitudes. Of course, pilots would need to adhere to all rules pertaining to the terminal airspace area. Many of the routes will connect existing VORs and intersections. On NACO charts, the terminal airways will be printed in blue. You'll need an IFR-en route certified GPS or FMS with a GPS input to fly the terminal routes.

For more information, see AOPA's issue brief.

March 3, 2005

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