The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has objected to proposed new Class C airspace around the airport on the island of Nantucket south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
"AOPA is concerned that the proposed Class C airspace could inappropriately reduce general aviation access to the airspace and reduce the operating utility for all users. It might also cause new safety problems," said Melissa K. Bailey, AOPA vice president of air traffic services. "We believe there is a much simpler solution to the problem the FAA is trying to solve."
Because of the summer seasonal peak in air traffic on the island, the FAA began a study to determine if the current Nantucket Class D airspace should be changed to the more restrictive, radar-based Class C operation. Some proponents believe safety would be improved if all aircraft flying to and from the island were under radar control.
But AOPA said there was a much easier way to achieve that.
"Cape Tracon already provides radar services around Nantucket," said Bailey, "but most VFR pilots don't use the service because they don't know it exists."
AOPA recommended publishing the boundaries, altitudes, and radio frequencies for "Cape Approach" on VFR sectional and world aeronautical charts. "The FAA could do this within two months for the next chart cycle," said Bailey. "We believe most pilots would voluntarily use radar services if they had adequate information."
AOPA noted that the imperative cited for Class C airspace was peak summer air traffic.
The association responded that the Class C proposal was "overly reactionary and unnecessary." Traffic counts for most of the year are much lower than peak summer months. In July 2000, for instance, there were nearly 23,000 takeoffs and landings at Nantucket, but only 8,000 in February. AOPA urged the FAA to form an airspace user working group to identify and discuss possible solutions.
A copy of AOPA's letter to the FAA on the proposed Nantucket Class C airspace is available online.
The 360,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world's largest civil aviation organization. AOPA challenges actions that unnecessarily restrict or limit pilots' use of public airspace.
October 4, 2000