While the FAA in early October released its Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) covering future mandatory carriage of ADS-B avionics, serious questions have already been raised about it. Generally, it was expected that the NPRM would cover the whole spectrum of ADS-B applications and would provide clear guidance to corporate operators anxious to benefit from the system’s full capabilities.
The FAA withdrew a 1998 proposal that would have raised the floor of the Tampa, Fla. Class B airspace from 1,200 feet msl to 3,000 feet msl and made other changes in anticipation of reduced military traffic from MacDill Air Force Base. But military traffic has actually increased, prompting Tampa ATC and MacDill officials to convince the FAA to retain the current configuration
of the airspace.
It has been just over two years since four hijacked jetliners stopped the world in its tracks on what was for residents of the New York City and Washington metro areas the beginning of a sparkling late summer day.
Tuesday, September 11
• DOT Secretary Norman Mineta, via the FAA, ordered the grounding of all aircraft in the National Airspace System effective at 9:25 a.m. EDT. At 2:07 p.m. the final civilian flight landed. Oceanic flights inbound to the continental U.S. diverted to Canada. Canada soon closed its airspace.
At 9:25 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, September 11, the Department of Transportation, via the FAA, ordered the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS) closed to all civil flights at its 460 controlled and 15,000+ nontower airports. Canada’s Ministry of Transport followed suit within one hour.
In the aftermath of the U.S. terrorist attacks, general and business aviation is facing severe flight restrictions. For example, flights below 3,000 ft agl within a three-nautical-mile radius of any major professional or college sporting event or “any other major open-air assembly” are now prohibited throughout the U.S. VFR flying below, through or above enhanced Class B airspace was not allowed.
The FAA has revised the Houston Class B airspace to contain the operations of jetliners to the new runways recently activated at George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Hobby Airport. The revisions, which involve expanding the lateral limits of areas B, C and D, go into effect on October 30. To help general aviation navigate the airspace, the FAA developed eight waypoints for the Houston terminal area.
Ever since the nerve-shattering morning of September 11, the skies over Manhattan have been strangely quiet. At first it was the same sort of silence that settled over the rest of the U.S.–the product of a total operations ban that was the national airspace lockdown.
Eurocontrol is evaluating proposals to introduce new “charging volumes for airspace” in which different ATC fees would apply for using different parts of Europe’s airspace. This would result in operators paying higher rates for using lower flight levels and particularly busy airspace sectors, such as those in southeast England.
Some flight schools have gone out of business since September 11 though the actual number is elusive. A National Air Transportation Association spokesman said a member survey taken two weeks after the terrorist attacks yielded shocking results. NATA’s membership conservatively lost between $300 million and $500 million during the period when all flight instruction and VFR flying were banned.