True cooperation is the key.
On May 1, 2015, the FAA posted a notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) in the Federal Register to expand Class D and E airspace around Salem, Oregon’s McNary Field (KSLE).
The summary of the NRPM states, “After a biennial review, the FAA found it necessary to amend the airspace area for the safety and management of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations for Standard Instrument Approach Procedures (SIAPs) at the airport.”
The proposal section states, “The FAA has determined this proposed regulation only involves an established body of technical regulations for which frequent and routine amendments are necessary to keep them operationally current. Therefore, this proposed regulation (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a “significant rule” under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034; Feb. 26, 1979); and (3) does not warrant preparation of a regulatory evaluation as the anticipated impact is so minimal. Since this is a routine matter that will only affect air traffic procedures and air navigation, it is certified this proposed rule, when promulgated, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.”
No comments were made. As a result, the NPRM became final on Aug. 20, 2015.
Once the airspace modifications were fully understood by the local community, the uproar was swift and loud.
Just 33 days later, a new Sept. 21, 2015 NPRM summary states, “After further review, the FAA found some airspace unnecessary for Standard Instrument Approach Procedures for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations at the airport.”
This particular NPRM elicited 71 comments.
March 8, 2016
On March 8, 2016, the FAA posted a Final Rule to the Federal Register regarding Salem airspace. Apparently, a good many Christmas tree farmers under the impacted airspace felt the NPRM would have a significant economic impact.
The FAA’s Discussion of Comments section begins with, “Of the 71 responses received, 19 concerned the potential economic impact to Christmas tree farms in the area. The FAA concurs that approximately two thirds of the Christmas tree farming acreage could be adversely affected. To mitigate the concerns for the agricultural areas, the FAA is creating shelves in the Class D, where feasible, between 4 and 5 miles southeast and southwest of the airport.”
Wait a minute — on May 1, 2015 the FAA’s NPRM stated, “this proposed rule, when promulgated, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.” Huh…
The Final Rule’s summary also states, “This action brings the controlled airspace into compliance with current FAA requirements, and adds to the safety and management of IFR operations at the airport.”
But the original NPRM stated, “the FAA found it necessary to amend the airspace area for the safety and management of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations for Standard Instrument Approach Procedures (SIAPs) at the airport.”
So the FAA intended to grab more airspace than “FAA requirements” with the May 1, 2015 NPRM. That’s unacceptable.
This whole process has created much anguish. It is sad, really.
“Nineteen commenters referenced a lack of public input. The FAA conducted a review of the process and found that all public coordination was completed consistent with the process outlined in JO 7400.2.”
Good for you FAA staff. You complied — in your own judgment — with the letter of the law. And yet, for the third time in 12 months, Salem’s airspace will change.
I’ve no doubt airspace design is tough. The various aerospace groups want and need different things. For that reason alone, the FAA and the aviation community must work together.
If the FAA had honored not just the letter, but the spirit of Joint Order 7400.2 — which outlines public notice, among many other things — this mess could’ve been avoided.
Revitalizing General Aviation: The Future Part 23
The FAA thinks cooperation with industry is so important, it produced a video to crow about its efforts on the Part 23 re-write.
The voice over at the beginning says, “For us in the FAA, the critical work ahead is to engage cooperatively with aviation industry leaders to bring those innovative ideas and technologies to market quickly, safely, and under a fresh, forward-looking regulatory framework.”
Since the video has fewer than 1,000 views (as of this writing), I’m guessing most FAA staffers have yet to watch it.
I guess that means it is business as usual. That’s sad. It could be so much better.