Southern California contains some of the trickiest airspace in the United States, but the FAA is considering making it a little more complex. The agency is proposing to change Long Beach/Daugherty Field’s Class D airspace to Class C.
“The addition of Class C airspace could have detrimental effects on general aviation operators in the area,” said Tom Kramer, AOPA manager of air traffic services. “Pilots should let the FAA know how such a move would impact them personally.”
All local pilots are encouraged to attend informal airspace meetings June 22 and 23 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. to discuss the proposal. The meetings will take place at the Holiday Inn Hotel Conference Center at the Long Beach Airport. Comments from the public will be considered as the agency puts together its notice of proposed rulemaking.
Editor’s Note: The Southern California Airspace Users Group has been unsuccessful in getting the FAA to abandon this effort. It is being pushed by Jet Blue Airlines.
FAA Plans Public Meetings On Long Beach Class C Airspace
SOCAL Pilots Mark June 22, 23 On Your Calendars
The FAA says it will hold two informal fact-finding airspace meetings to solicit information from airspace users and others, concerning a proposal to establish Class C airspace at Long Beach, CA (KLGB), and revise the Santa Ana (John Wayne KSNA) Class C airspace area, CA. The purpose of these meetings is to provide interested parties an opportunity to present views, recommendations, and comments on the proposal. All comments received during these meetings will be considered prior to any issuance of a notice of proposed rulemaking.
The meetings will be informal in nature and will be conducted by one or more representatives of the FAA Western Service Area. A representative from the FAA will present a briefing on the planned Class C airspace areas. Each participant will be given an opportunity to deliver comments or make a presentation, although a time limit may be imposed. Only comments concerning the plan to establish the Long Beach Class C airspace or the revision of Santa Ana (John Wayne), CA, Class C airspace area will be accepted.
Anyone who wants to make a presentation to the FAA panel will be asked to sign in and estimate the amount of time needed for their presentation. This will permit the panel to allocate an appropriate amount of time for each presenter. These meetings will not be adjourned until everyone on the list has had an opportunity to address the panel.
The meetings are open to the public. They are scheduled for June 22 and 23 at the Holiday Inn Hotel (Conference Center) at Long Beach Airport. Additional comments to the FAA on the proposed airspace are due to the agency by July 31.
FAA seeks tighter control at Long Beach Airport
Federal agency wants to upgrade the facility’s airspace designation, requiring more air traffic control. But some private pilots say the expanded supervision is unnecessary and creates more problems.
Concerned about a growing potential for midair collisions, especially over neighborhoods, the federal government is considering significant air traffic control changes at Long Beach Airport — a move opposed by some private pilots who say the proposals might create more problems than they solve.
The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed establishing so-called Class C airspace at Long Beach, which requires more communication with pilots and a higher level of monitoring by air traffic controllers than now exists. In addition, the proposal would increase by at least a third the area under air traffic control around the airport.
FAA officials say they are weighing the changes because of reports by airlines that collision warning systems in the cockpits of their planes — so-called TCAS devices — are being triggered more often during Long Beach flight operations.
If a midair collision occurred involving an airliner, scores of passengers could be killed and casualties could mount if the wreckage rains down on homes, office buildings, shopping centers or schools along flight paths.
“We crafted the proposal to balance an increase in safety and limiting the impact on general aviation pilots,” said Ian Gregor, an FAA spokesman. “It’s not going to change air routes. It won’t ban anyone from airspace, and it will not eliminate flight training areas.”
FAA officials believe that of the 89 domestic airports that serve at least 1 million passengers, Long Beach is the only one on the United States mainland that does not have at least Class C airspace. Smaller airports, such as Monterey Peninsula, often have more controlled skies, FAA officials say.
In 2009, Long Beach had slightly more than 297,000 takeoffs and landings. Roughly 90% involved general aviation, such as private planes, law enforcement flights and charter services. The airport has two cargo operations and five airlines that handled about 3 million passengers last year.
Under Class C requirements, pilots must establish two-way communications with the tower before entering the airspace. Controllers keep aircraft separated, advise pilots about air traffic and provide safety alerts to aircraft flying under instrument flight rules and visual flight rules. There are also stricter separation requirements than other types of controlled airspace.