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Public Forums Announced For Proposed Phoenix Class B Airspace Revision


February 16, 2006 — The public will have an opportunity to review proposed revisions to the Phoenix Class B Airspace Area at three informal, fact-finding meetings in the Phoenix area in April and May. EAA encourages its members in the Phoenix area to attend at least one of these FAA-sponsored meetings, where the proposed Class B modifications around Sky Harbor International will be explained and the public will have an opportunity to make presentations and hold discussions about how they might be affected by them.

Proposed SFAR at Luke AFB

The meetings are scheduled for:

  • 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, Glendale Airport Terminal Building, 6801 North Glen Harbor Blvd, Glendale;
  • 7 p.m. Thursday, April 27, Williams Gateway Airport, ASU Polytechnic University Student Union Ballroom, 7001 East Williams Field Road, Mesa;
  • 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 2, Deer Valley Airport, Pan Am International Flight Academy, 530 West Deer Valley Road, Phoenix.

Jim Timm, EAA member and executive director of the Arizona Pilots Association, serves on the ad hoc committee working on the Class B redesign since last year. The GA community's concerns center on the added complexity of the airspace, plus the lowering of the ceiling 10,000 feet to 9,000 feet which adversely affects the sizable area soaring community. FAA officials also want to lower the floor of the Class B airspace from 3,000 feet to 2,700 feet, forcing aircaft to fly closer to the ground.

Timm said the increased complexity for GA aircraft, in particular experimental and vintage aircraft not equipped with moving map equipment, would invite inadvertent intrusions into the Class B airspace.

FAA says it will respond to all comments received at the public meetings, and Timm encouraged pilots to attend. "If enough people comment and they have a compelling argument, they (FAA) may reconsider their plans," Timm said.

EAA member and glider enthusiast Jim Burch also serves on the committee. He also encourages all his fellow area EAAers to attend, even if they do not have an apparent concern or complaint.v

"The sport pilot people had better pay attention," he said. "We really do need to change the airspace due to the (airliners) route changes. There may be a lot we don't particularly like about (the proposed changes), like the small passageway between Phoenix and Falcon Field," but Burch added the committee would provide as much information as possible to allow recreational pilots better information on dealing with the new proposed Class B airspace.

The official public meeting notice states that the meeting will not be formally recorded, so those planning to make comments or presentations ought to also present those comments in writing, and no later than June 3, 2006. Verbal public comments may or may not be considered in the final airspace review.

LUKE AFB TO PROPOSE SFAR Although not a part of the proposed Phoenix Class B Area modification discussion, a proposed Special Flight Area Rules (SFAR) at nearby Luke Air Force has the GA community concerned. The SFAR would require all flying vehicles-from ultralights and hot-air balloons, to recreational and general aircraft to commercial aircraft-to obtain an ATC clearance/advisory prior to operating within the Luke AFB proposed flight operations area, that extends far beyond their current airport terminal area and the proposed Phoenix Class B airspace.

Jim Timm, executive director of the Arizona Pilots Association, says that the Air Force has documented a number of close calls between GA aircraft flying out of Deer Valley and Luke AFB F-16s. However, Timm said there is suspicion that the near-misses are a historical in nature involving student pilots from Pan Am and West Wind Aviation flight schools that operate out of Deer Valley and that some of the problems have already been addressed.

EAA's Randy Hansen, senior government relations specialist, notes, "The U.S. Congress empowers the FAA to manage the National Airspace System (NAS) through a series of airspace usage checks and balances. Currently Luke AFB has Class D airspace to protect their flight operations. The FAA checks and balances dedicate that airspace protections can be raised from a Class D to Class C if and only if air traffic volumes warrant it, which is not the case at Luke AFB."

In addition, the Luke proposal calls for this special airspace to be activated "only when its 56th Fighter Wing is flying." If one F-16 aircraft is flying, then all aircraft must call Luke ATC for permission to fly. EAA considers this to be an unacceptable use of the NAS resource. EAA has obtained a copy of the proposed SFAR for review.

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