Section 3. Class B Airspace Processing
Class B airspace actions require rulemaking under 14 CFR Part 71. Due to their size and operating requirements, Class B airspace proposals tend to be controversial with processing times extending to several years. This section describes the steps required from the development of a Class B proposal through the issuance of a final rule that implements the airspace change.
A Staff Study is required to identify and document the need to establish or modify a Class B airspace area. The study will be used to determine if an ad hoc committee should be formed to begin the airspace change process. The content of the study will depend on site-specific details for the situation being considered. The following is a list of suggested items for the study. This list and study format may be modified as needed.
- Executive Summary. A one-page summary that describes the problem, alternatives considered, and justification for the proposed airspace change request.
- Background. Describe the current operation and aviation activity in the area and forecast data for the primary and secondary airports.
- Primary airport(s).
- Current passenger enplanement count.
- Airport(s)' latest total annual operations count.
- Secondary/satellite airport(s).
- Current passenger enplanement count.
- Airport(s)' total operations count.
- Types of operations conducted (for example, flight school training, gliders, parachuting, Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) activities, etc.).
- Description of the terminal area.
- IFR and VFR departure and arrival traffic flows at primary and secondary/satellite airports.
- Existing routes and altitudes that IFR and VFR traffic use while operating en route through the area or transitioning to/from all affected airports.
- Numbers of VFR operations that receive ATC services that are denied service, and that circumnavigate the present terminal airspace configuration.
Include any anticipated increase or decrease in these numbers if the Class B airspace configuration is designated or modified as proposed.
- Adjacent airspace considerations.
- Other ATC facility delegated airspace.
- Special use airspace.
- Unique geographical features.
- Overflight traffic volume affecting Class B operations.
- FAA Terminal Area Forecast (TAF) data. Include the latest TAF data for the primary and key secondary airports.
- Statement of the Problem.
- Identify and document the operational issue(s). Explain how safety and the efficient management of air traffic operations in and through the terminal area are affected.
- Provide supporting data to illustrate the operational issue(s), such as TCAS Resolution Advisories, Near Midair Collision (NMAC) reports, airspace modeling graphics, containment issue documentation, controller/user input, etc.
- Alternatives Considered. Non-rulemaking alternatives must be examined before proposing rulemaking airspace changes, such as:
- Are there internal measures that could resolve the problem (for example, new equipment/control positions, changing facility procedures, resectorization, etc.?)
- Modification of instrument procedures.
- Pilot/Controller education programs.
- Analysis of staffing options and issues, such as:
- Current staffing status and the anticipated staffing requirements for implementing the proposed Class B airspace.
- Impact on air traffic and air navigation facilities, including new or modified control positions required; and new, or relocation of existing, navigational aids/communication equipment.
- Preliminary airspace design.
- A written description of the complete Class B airspace area including full boundaries of all sub-areas, existing and proposed. (For examples, see FAA Order JO 7400.11, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points.)
- A depiction of the preliminary Class B airspace configuration on a VFR aeronautical chart.
- An explanation of how the preliminary airspace design addresses the operational issue.
- Discussion of any anticipated adverse impacts on nonparticipating aircraft.
- Charting. Consider enhancements to the VFR TAC that add information to assist pilots in identifying Class B boundaries, navigating through the area, or avoiding Class B airspace. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Depiction of prominent terrain features or landmarks.
- Proposed VFR Flyways, with associated recommended altitudes that would be charted to accommodate VFR aircraft desiring to avoid the Class B airspace area.
FAA Order JO 7210.3, Chapter 12, Section 4, VFR Flyway Planning Chart Program.
- VFR corridor and transition routes to transit through the Class B airspace area.
- GPS waypoints and VFR checkpoints.
- RNAV routes for transiting or deviating around the Class B airspace.
TAC chart content is separate from the Class B rulemaking process. Service centers/ATC facilities must coordinate chart content/design requests directly with Aeronautical Information Services.
- Environmental considerations.
- Conclusions. Explain how the proposed airspace designation/modification will reduce the midair collision potential and enhance safety and efficiency in the terminal area.
The Service Center must ensure that user input is sought and considered before formulating any proposed Class B airspace area design.
- An ad hoc advisory committee, composed of representatives of local airspace users, must be formed to present input or recommendations to the FAA regarding the proposed design of the Class B airspace area (See Chapter 14 of this order).
- Informal airspace meeting(s) must be conducted in accordance with Chapter 2 of this order.
- Based on the results of the Service Center's analysis of the staff study and user input, the Service Center determines whether the proposal should be continued to NPRM or terminated.
- The air traffic facility, assisted by the appropriate Service Center office, will develop a proposed Class B airspace design, incorporating user input, to be published in an NPRM.
If modifying an existing Class B area that has a published Charted VFR Flyway Planning Chart, determine if changes are also needed to the flyways to ensure there are no conflicts with the proposed Class B design. Service centers/ATC facilities must coordinate flyway chart changes directly with Aeronautical Information Services (See FAA Order JO 7210.3).
- The Service Center will submit a memorandum to the Rules and Regulations Group to initiate rulemaking action. The memorandum must summarize the background, requirement, justification, and Service Center recommendation. Include, as attachments, the following information:
- Ad hoc Committee Report.
- Informal Airspace Meeting summary(ies) and comments submitted.
- Responses to substantive ad hoc committee recommendations and Informal Airspace Meeting public comments received.
- Written proposed Class B airspace description.
- An explanation of how the proposed airspace design addresses the operational issue.
- Any other pertinent information.
- The Rules and Regulations Group will prepare the NPRM for publication in the Federal Register. A 60-day comment period applies to Class B NPRMs.
- The Service Center must:
- Review all comments received in response to the NPRM.
- Coordinate with the ATC facility(ies) to address all substantive aeronautical comments.
- Finalize the Class B airspace design for submission to the Rules and Regulations Group.
- Submit a memorandum to the Rules and Regulations Group with recommendations for final action on the proposal. Include, as attachments, the following information:
- A discussion of how each substantive comment was addressed.
- The final version of the Class B airspace description. Explain any differences from the NPRM design.
- The requested airspace effective date (must match the Sectional/TAC chart date).
- If required, coordinate Sectional, TAC, and VFR Flyway charting changes with Aeronautical Information Services (AIS).
- The Rules and Regulations Group will review the Service Center package and prepare the final rule for publication in the Federal Register.
- When a Class B primary airport no longer meets the Class B airspace criteria, and is identified during the Biennial Review process, the Class B airspace must be considered for revocation.
- The Service Center requests a staff study be conducted by the appropriate office.
- Based on their analysis of the staff study, the Service Center must determine if the Class B airspace will be:
- Retained as Class B airspace; or
- Revoked and redesignated as Class C or Class D airspace, as appropriate.
- If the Service Center determines that Class B airspace should be retained, they must document their analysis and determination to file with the biennial evaluation, and send an information copy of the retention determination to the Rules and Regulations Group (AJV-P21). If it is determined that the Class B airspace should be revoked and redesignated as Class C or Class D airspace, the Service Center must initiate rulemaking action as specified in this Order.