Anchorage, Alaska-A proposal by the Federal Aviation Administration to create Class “D” airspace for Bryant Army Airfield in the Anchorage Municipality is raising concern among pilots who already feel that the Anchorage airspace is too complicated.
The Army operates Bryant Airfield (PAFR) which lies northeast of Downtown Anchorage and is approximately 3 nautical miles the same direction from Merrill Field (PAMR) which has its own Class D Airspace.Bryant Airfield has its own segment that lies next to Elmendorf Air Force Base airspace. Called the Bryant Segment it borders the Elmendorf segment to the west and borders restricted airspace R-2203A to the North.
Class “D” airspace is defined as an invisible cylinder that starts at the surface and extends up 2,500 feet with a radius of 4-nautical miles, and requires radio contact before entering and transiting the airspace.
“What this is crazy… we already have two Class D airports in this same area and much of the overlying area lies under Class C airspace which is confined by mountains to the east and a body of water on the west, and Restricted airspace to the north,” said Lars Gleitsmann, a government affairs liaison for Anchorage based Experimental Aircraft Association, Chapter 42.
The current flow of general aviation traffic flows east of the Glen Highway that borders Bryant running northeast and southwest. Traffic to and from Merrill Field flying north is advised to fly east of the Glen Highway which acts as a venturi between the special use airspace and the mountains.
The air traffic flow is forced into this corridor due to the rising terrain of the 5-6000 ft. Chugach Mountains directly east. Elmendorf, Bryant segments and the 2203A Restricted airspace also force general aviation traffic to the east. This corridor has recorded heavy Visual Flight Rule traffic of 150-200 aircraft movements an hour during peak usage, according to aviation sectional maps.
According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association the Army cites increased military traffic and other airports near this corridor as a need for the Class “D” airspace. The area is a well known helicopter use area and the 2203 is a jump zone for military C-17 and Sherpa use.
The area in question to the east that will be affected is a common flight path for aircraft leaving Anchorage for the Matanuska Valley or for valley traffic headed into Anchorage.
“In an already congested airspace area, AOPA is concerned that establishing of Class D airspace over Bryant Army Airfield would further compress air traffic,” said Melissa McCaffrey, AOPA senior government analyst in a call for comments by Alaskan aviators.
Interested pilots wishing to respond may submit written comments by Oct. 9 (http://www.regulations.gov/#!home;tab=search) or by mail to U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M– 30, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, Washington, DC 20590–0001. Use FAA Docket No. FAA–2012–0433 and Airspace Docket No. 12–AAL–5, at the beginning of your comments to ensure acceptability of a submission.
Rob Stapleton can be reached at: robstapleton (at) alaska.net