The FAA is changing its online IFR reservation system (electronic Special Traffic Management Procedure - e-STMP). And AOPA was involved to make sure it meets the needs of general aviation pilots.
e-STMP applies to pilots flying IFR into "high traffic" events, such as AOPA Expo and the AOPA Fly-In, NASCAR races, major sporting events, and some ski resorts . It's how air traffic control tries to make sure everyone has a reasonably fair shot at landing when and where he or she wants.
The trouble was that some operators were abusing the system, flooding it with hundreds of unused reservations, just to make sure they had a reservation no matter how their schedules changed. That meant the GA pilot frequently couldn't get a reservation.
Beginning December 8, the FAA will require pilots to reconfirm their IFR slot reservation within 8 to 24 hours before their reserved slot time. If there's no confirmation, the slot is released to allow someone else to reserve it.
Pilots will get a confirmation number, which should be noted in the IFR flight plan remarks section. Expect controllers to ask you for the confirmation number as well.
AOPA, to protect member interests, participated in the working group that recommended the changes.
STMP procedures are activated by notam for specific events and locations. Reservations can be filed online or by calling 703/904-4452.
For more information, see AOPA's issue brief.
Updated: November 22, 2005, 4:22 p.m. EST