The FAA on Monday released a proposal to create Class C airspace over Sanford, Florida's airport (SFB) and modify the Orlando Class B airspace. And AOPA is not happy about the proposal or the process that produced it.
"We're greatly concerned that if this proposal is implemented, it will result in denial of VFR services to many non-corporate GA pilots," said Heidi Williams, AOPA director of air traffic services. "And that's because the FAA did not adequately involve the user community, and it ignored AOPA's formal comments."
Or rather, the FAA "misplaced" the comments.
(See the AOPA Online Safety Center for an explanation of Class B and C airspace.)
A little less than two years ago, AOPA filed formal comments with the FAA's Southern Region, saying that the proposal did not take into account user concerns about safety and GA access to the airspace.
The FAA claimed it had talked to users. But AOPA said that the FAA never properly notified pilots of its airspace meetings and, therefore, could not have gathered a representative sample of opinions.
The association asked the agency to withdraw the proposed airspace restructuring and form an ad hoc user group. "The user-group process allows local airspace representatives from surrounding impacted airports to review and develop recommendations to the airspace proposal," AOPA said at the time.
And AOPA was led to believe that the FAA was going to do just that.
Instead, the proposal was suddenly issued from FAA headquarters with no record of AOPA's comments. No one in headquarters claimed to know anything about AOPA's concerns.
"To put it bluntly, that's no way to run a railroad," said Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of government and technical affairs. "Whether by design or bureaucratic ineptitude, it's unacceptable for a federal agency to ignore public comment on a rulemaking proposal."
AOPA will once again file formal comments against the proposed Class C for Sanford - and demand that this time the comments are included in the record.
Pilots who wish to comment on the proposal must do so before October 7. Comments should be sent to:
Docket Management System
U.S. Department of Transportation
Room Plaza 401
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20590-001
Identify "FAA Docket No. FAA-2005-20700 and Airspace Docket No. 04-AWA-8" at the beginning of your comments. You may also submit comments online.
August 10, 2005