US business aviation to benefit from eastern coast overhaul

US business aviation is expecting to benefit from the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) sweeping changes to the airspace along the eastern seaboard.

According to the NBAA, operators will see significant changes ahead of the project’s targeted November 2020 completion date, with the replacement on October 10 of high altitude “J-routes” in the Atlantic Corridor with “Y-routes” optimised for performance-based navigation capabilities. Low-altitude routes will be similarly replaced on November 7, with all J-routes from Florida replaced by January 30, 2020.

Among the FAA’s goals for the Northeast Corridor Atlantic Coast Routes (NEC ACR) optimisation project are enabling greater use of offshore route options, particularly during Severe Weather Avoidance Plan operations; reducing offshore vectoring and holds; and better segregating overflight traffic from busy arrival and departure corridors into New York and Washington, DC.

Ernie Stellings, senior manager at NBAA air traffic services, noted several of these optimisations will directly benefit business aviation operations. “For example, among these changes will be creation of a new ‘super ultra-high’ ATC sector over Washington, DC that will reduce airspace restrictions and closures for traffic crossing the area above FL400,” he said.

Future airspace optimisations also will replace commonly used AZEZU offshore routing with more accessible options. Although AZEZU is frequently suggested by ATC to relieve airspace congestion between Florida and the NEC, not all aircraft have the equipment required to fly it.

Building on lessons from last year’s South-Central Florida metroplex project and other optimisation efforts, the NBAA reported that FAA officials have met during the past several months with key stakeholders in the NEC project, including the NBAA, to outline milestones and ensure operators are aware of these changes beforehand.

Stellings noted the agency also is working with flight planning services used by business aircraft operators to make sure they have time to make the necessary alterations to aeronautical charts prior to the targeted implementation dates.

“The FAA hopes to improve routing and decrease operational complexity through the nation’s busiest airspace,” he said. “This may be the biggest route change in 50 years; the eastern seaboard is the most congested airspace in the country, and it’s all being redone.”