Top, Bottom Of Bravo Airspace Would Drop
In terms of population,
one of the fastest-growing parts of the country right now is the
area surrounding Phoenix, AZ. In addition to the number of cars
that choke I-10 at all hours of the day, air traffic is growing as
well... and the FAA wants to cut down on the number of separation
incidents involving commercial and general aviation.
To that end, FAA officials at Sky Harbor International want to
lower the floor of the Class B airspace from 3,000 feet to 2,700
feet -- forcing GA traffic to fly closer to the ground.
If enacted, the changes would go into effect next year; it would
be the second major revamping of the airspace above Phoenix since
Already, the Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association promises to
fight the changes in airspace designation.
"We strenuously oppose it," AOPA's Chris Dancy told the Arizona
Star, adding the new boundaries for GA traffic would no longer be
aligned with easily-identifiable highways and other important
Also firmly in the "nay" column is Tempe mayor Hugh Hallman. The
suburb, which lies east of Sky Harbor, already deals with noise
caused by jet traffic landing and departing the busy airport.
"They are going to be bringing aircraft closer to the ground and
adding to the noisy environment that has already been created,"
Hallman told the Star.
Meanwhile, US Airways (formerly America West) spokesman Phil Gee
said the Tempe-based airline strongly supports the airspace
redesign. "It gives the FAA better control of the airspace in and
out of Phoenix," Gee said.
To make up for the loss
of airspace for general aviation traffic over the Phoenix metro
area, the proposal would also lower the ceiling of the Class B
envelope, from 10,000 feet to 9,000 feet, so GA traffic could fly
above the controlled airspace at a lower altitude.
That's little comfort, though, to a pilot flying under the
envelope, who would lose a 300-foot margin of safety in an
emergency -- or to those on the ground, who would now be 300
feet closer to his unmuffled Lycoming.
"Pilots need to be high enough that they have gliding room in an
emergency for a safe landing," said Jim Timm with the Arizona
Pilots Association. "And, obviously, this will put some
general-aviation airplanes closer to residents."
FAA meetings over the change will be held, beginning in April.
"That's when the painful part really begins," Timm said.