Responding to concerns raised by AOPA and area pilots, the FAA has made some welcome changes to the proposed reconfiguration of the Atlanta Class B airspace. Challenges remain, however, as Melissa Martin, senior air traffic analyst for AOPA, noted in a March 21 letter offering detailed comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking.
Martin expressed the association’s appreciation for the creation of visual waypoints, VFR flyways, and transition routes not included in the original proposal. In addition, she noted some remaining challenges based on the compression resulting from the proposed reduction of the Class B floor in many areas, particularly aircraft using Georgia’s second busiest airport, Dekalb-Peachtree.
“Departing aircraft from PDK, particularly westbound departures, would be restricted to lower initial altitudes for extended periods of time. Arriving aircraft would be forced to descend to lower altitudes earlier on their arrival. This type of compression of the traffic is inefficient, will burn additional fuel leading to greater carbon emissions, and will lead to an increase in noise complaints from airport neighbors surrounding PDK,” Martin wrote.
FAA officials seek to contain traffic arriving and departing Hartsfield-Jackson International within the Class B boundaries. With the current design, aircraft often exit and re-enter the Class B airspace during arrival or departure, a practice discouraged by FAA air traffic control procedures. The proposed airspace modifications would reduce the horizontal diameter of the Class B airspace to 30 nautical miles or less, while lowering the floor of the Class B “shelf” in several areas. The FAA maintains that the changes will not change the current operation altitudes, or the volume, of airline traffic, and that VFR and IFR access to satellite airports would be maintained.
The NPRM was issued Feb. 3, and pilots have until April 3 to comment. AOPA encourages members to submit comments, and copy those comments to AOPA. Comments can be submitted online or mailed to Mr. Gary A. Norek, Docket Operations, M-30, U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Rm W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, D.C. 20590-0001. Identify the FAA Docket No. FAA-2011-1237 and Airspace Docket No. 08-AWA-1 at the beginning of your comments.