GA pilots flying IFR into the busy Northeast this summer will experience fewer delays thanks to AOPA advocacy. That's because AOPA worked to get piston-engine IFR flights exempted from the FAA's new Airspace Flow Program (AFP).
AFP is yet another tool the FAA will use to limit traffic when weather or congestion east of the Ohio Valley reduces the number of aircraft air traffic control can handle.
Under AFP, ATC will now be metering traffic into the "constrained airspace" of one of the Northeast's en route air traffic control centers. It's an effort to more equitably allocate and distribute air traffic delays associated with the severe weather season.
What that would mean for a typical GA pilot on an IFR flight plan is illustrated in this example: Traffic is backed up trying to get into Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) because of thunderstorms along the East Coast in Washington En Route Control Center's airspace. ATC issues an Airspace Flow Program and holds traffic from crossing the line between Washington Center and Indianapolis, Atlanta, or Jacksonville centers.
However, under the FAA's original plan, that would have meant that an IFR pilot from the Midwest inbound to Frederick, Maryland (inside Washington Center's airspace, but a non-commercial service airport not affected by the convective weather on the coast), would have been held as well.
But because of AOPA's work, piston-engine IFR flights will be kept out of the AFP program, and thus avoid delays, particularly if you're flying between airports without a lot of airline traffic.
But AFP will apply to turbine-powered aircraft flying above 12,000 feet.
May 4, 2006