Complex airspace: AOPA offers simpler alternative to Phoenix Class B redesign

The proposed Phoenix Class B redesign would make navigating the airspace similar to a lab rat finding its way through a complex maze. But AOPA members have worked with association staff to offer better suggestions that will meet the needs of all airspace users.

The users' proposal would simplify some of the airspace and align some boundaries with geographic features familiar to local pilots.

It would also provide better access for VFR pilots flying along the valley east of Sky Harbor Airport. The AOPA-user proposal would allow pilots to maintain the recommended altitude above the Superstition Mountains Wilderness Area and keep aircraft higher above noise-sensitive residential areas.

"The FAA has repeatedly ignored AOPA's recommendations, so we have sent them an alternative airspace design that works for all airspace users and it's simple," said Heidi Williams, AOPA director of air traffic services.

"The FAA's proposal would decrease safety and force pilots flying under the airspace to change altitudes constantly. But we did agree with the FAA's recommended ceiling 9,000 feet msl because that makes it easier for GA to overfly the airspace."

As AOPA pointed out, the FAA purposely requires that Class B airspace be as simple as possible to meet the needs of GA and other users in the area. Phoenix should be no different.

The association has participated in 14 months of meetings about the redesign and continues to supply the FAA with recommendations that will balance the needs of GA and the airlines without effectively shutting GA out of the airspace.

July 20, 2006