November 16, 2008

Change is Coming!!!!

This upcoming week is chock full of exciting changes to the NAS. Novemeber 20th is the date most charts and procedures get updated, and there are some impressive new charts out there fresh off the presses.

There are THREE new runways opening at major airports around the country. Seattle's third parallel (16R/34L) is still too close to the other two to allow dual instrument approaches, and I'm not sure how it will affect visual approaches and departure flows. Washington/Dulles' fourth runway (1L/19R) will enable triple approaches to the north or south, and should reduce the miles-in-trail spacing we give to New York Center, if not eliminate it. Lastly and not leastly, Chicago Ohare opens their 7th runway (9L/27R). They can now land three side by side to the east or west. Due to their new airspace reconfiguration associated with the extra runway, they are decommissioning their brand new SAYRS arrival procedure and implementing the even newer PAITN arrival. All the aircraft that depart Boston Center to Chicago will be assigned this new procedure. As far as I am concerned, only the name of arrival has changed. Chicago is in the midst of a massive, well-publicized, extreme airport makeover. It'll be exciting to see what new projects are next on their list.

Not all the news is runway related, however. Area A and B, here in Boston Center, have been preparing for the biggest military airspace change in decades. The Adirondack Airspace Complex has been in the works for a while, but only recently revealed to the public. As controllers, we have had the new airspace map on display in the area for the last month and a half, and two weeks ago we all attended an hour long briefing about what each airspace block would be used for and how to clear military aircraft into them. I have been doing my best to memorize the new names, altitude limits, and combinations of each that the military will use for each training mission. Until they start using it, though, its hard to grasp how it will impact the operation. One apparent snafu is that half of this new airspace complex is on the Montreal Sectional chart, which won't be updated with the new airspace until early next year sometime. The New York Sectional will be updated the on the 20th, so pilots planning their VFR flight through the area will put the two charts together and see different, and out of date, military airspace as they cross the line onto the Montreal chart. The FAA claims that they are sending out notices to pilots about this, and hopefully all affected pilots will receive and understand said notices. Even though this is all new, we're still expected to make it all work without error or incident.

Until next time.... Stay away from upstate NY!


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