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New Kenai/Soldotna traffic advisory area proposed

Acting on a request by pilots who fly in the area of the Kenai Peninsula, the FAA is working with industry stakeholders to create a common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) area similar to those established in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.

The FAA assembled a working group with local and statewide representatives to craft a proposal for a CTAF area based on using the current Soldotna CTAF frequency, 122.5 MHz, as an “area” frequency. This would replace the multiple different, but overlapping, CTAFs currently assigned to airports, seaplane bases, and landing strips in the area. A proposal has been drafted both to define the boundaries of the CTAF area and to add a network of reporting points to help improve situational awareness of pilots while operating in this airspace.

How we got here

Midair collisions don’t happen often, but when they do, they are frequently fatal. The fatal midair collision between a Piper PA–12 Super Cruiser and a de Havilland DHC–2 Beaver near Soldotna in July 2020 galvanized efforts to explore options for reducing the risk of this type of accident. While not the only factor in midair collisions, pilots issuing traffic reports on different radio frequencies while sharing the same airspace potentially creates distractions, limits effective communications, and diminishes situational awareness with other aircraft in the vicinity. An analysis of almost 40 landing areas revealed a mixture of overlapping frequencies in use, as well as airports with no assigned CTAF frequency. After collaborating on this issue through the winter, the working group has developed a proposal to create a CTAF area frequency and to add a network of reporting points for use when making position reports.

The proposed common traffic advisory frequency areas on the upper Kenai Peninsula. Inside the pink line, the CTAF would be 122.5 MHz. The reporting points shown would be added to the sectional chart to increase situational awareness for pilots making traffic calls. Graphic based on FAA data.

The proposal

The maps above and below both show the boundaries proposed for use of 122.5 MHz as a CTAF area frequency used for the majority of the peninsula, excluding the Class D airspace around Kenai Municipal Airport. Frequencies in use at the Kenai airport would remain the same. The 122.5 frequency is the CTAF currently assigned to the Soldotna airport and would be expanded to the area bounded by the pink lines on the maps that illustrate this article. The maps also show the existing CTAF area over Cook Inlet to the west (122.7) for reference—this CTAF frequency would remain the same. In addition, a network of VFR checkpoints is proposed to provide geographic reference features for use when making position reports.

The FAA-proposed boundaries and reporting points, displayed on a Google Earth background.

The proposal is now being circulated to obtain user feedback for consideration by the FAA before finalizing the plan. I encourage you to study this proposal and, if you have questions, comments, or concerns, email them to the FAA Alaska regional administrator’s office. Please send a copy of your comments to AOPA. Your observations and feedback will help us to refine this plan before it is finalized.

Tom George
Tom George
AOPA Alaska Regional Manager
AOPA Alaska Regional Manager Tom George has covered Alaska issues for AOPA since 2001. He is a commercial multiengine rated pilot who flies a Cessna 185 for fun and to acquire vertical aerial photography.
Topics: Advocacy, Airspace Redesign, Situational Awareness

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