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FAA proposes changes to Pocatello, Idaho, airspaceFAA proposes changes to Pocatello, Idaho, airspace

The FAA has proposed changes to the Class D and Class E airspace at Idaho’s Pocatello Regional Airport to support IFR operations, according to a regulatory filing. 

Graphic depicting the future airspace surrounding Pocatello Regional Airport with blue representing the proposed Class D, pink the proposed Class E upward from 700 feet, and the yellow outline representing Class E upward from 1,200 feet. Image courtesy of the FAA.

AOPA encourages pilots who use the airport review the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and submit formal comments to the FAA by Feb. 2, 2018, as provided below.

The proposed changes include raising the vertical limit of Pocatello’s Class D airspace from 6,900 feet msl to 7,000 feet msl, and increasing the airspace south of the airport to a 5.6-mile radius from 4.5-miles, “to laterally protect IFR departures as they climb to 700 feet above the surface, due to rising terrain”; making the surface area of Class E airspace coincident with the Class D airspace area; and removing a Class E airspace extension “as it contains no arrival aircraft within 1,000 feet of the surface, and is not necessary.”

The proposal also seeks to amend Class E airspace that extends upward from 700 feet above the surface by reducing the area southwest of the airport, and slightly increasing the airspace area south of the airport, “to ensure sufficient controlled airspace to contain IFR arrival aircraft within 1,500 feet above the surface and IFR departure aircraft until reaching 1,200 feet above the surface.”

Other changes would include establishing other controlled airspace to support IFR operations when aircraft transition between en route and airport environments, and updating the airport's geographic coordinates for Class D and E airspace areas to reflect the FAA's current aeronautical database.

Rune Duke, AOPA’s director of airspace and air traffic, urged area pilots to study the proposal before the public comment period ends and raise any safety concerns in formal comments. Prompt recognition of possible adverse consequences would avoid a scenario in which an airspace-amendment proposal raises unforeseen weather-related conflicts, as occurred in the vicinity of McNary Field in Salem, Oregon, in 2015 and 2016, when changes to Class D airspace threatened to constrain local agricultural flights conducted under VFR. Special procedures for the VFR flights and, ultimately, a reconfiguration of the airspace resolved those concerns, said Duke, who participated in the discussions on behalf of AOPA members,

Pilots who wish to comment on the Pocatello airspace proposal can do so online or by mail to U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590. Be sure to identify FAA Docket No. FAA-2017-0855; Airspace Docket No. 17-ANM-17 at the beginning of your comments.

Please also forward a copy of your comments to AOPA.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, Airport Advocacy, Airspace

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