Detroit Airspace Redesign

Robert Chapin
Diagram of the proposed Class B airspace configuration

Proposed Airspace Configuration

This is a heads up for anyone interested in commenting on the new Detroit airspace.  NPRM comments must be received by the FAA deadline next Monday, October 15.

I was able to get a sneak peek of the proposal back in March, so I’m already psyched up to start flying in a much larger and more complex terminal area.  Here are a few observations about the changes:

Over Ann Arbor, 3,400 ft will be the only usable level without a clearance.  On the bright side, the ambiguous sector where Class B at 3,000 ft overlaps Class D at 3,300 ft will be eliminated.

At Willow Run, it will no longer be possible to depart the Class D airspace VFR to the south without a clearance to do so.

The FAA makes an interesting remark about Eastern Michigan University training traffic.  According to the NPRM, “the FAA does not agree, therefore, that the proposed Class B airspace area would render the EMU training area south of ARB unusable or force a concentration of VFR training aircraft in EMU’s north training area.”

I think both EMU and the FAA have good points here.  The FAA suggests training may continue in the south practice area so long as a Class B clearance is obtained by each pilot operating above 4,000 ft.  This is true, however those clearances are issued on a workload-permitting basis, and Detroit is sometimes unable to take VFR requests even in the current configuration.  EMU may be correct that this would occasionally lead to congestion north of Ann Arbor.

There is also one statement I have to disagree with, where the FAA says, “the other half of EMU’s training area remains completely useable; either under a proposed Class B airspace shelf with a 6,000-foot MSL floor or outside the lateral boundary of the proposed Class B airspace area altogether.”  The only portion of the training area that is actually outside the proposed airspace is a tiny triangular corner, approximately 1.5 miles on each side.  I hope for a more precise consideration of this point if it gets mentioned in the final rule.

Next Post: New Detroit Airspace Effective April 2014

12 Oct 2012



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