[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 250 (Thursday, December 31, 2009)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 69272-69279]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-30938]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 93

[Docket No.: FAA-2008-1087; Amendment No. 93-95]
RIN 2120-AJ29


Establishment of a Special Air Traffic Rule in the Vicinity of 
Luke Air Force Base (AFB), AZ

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This rule establishes a Special Air Traffic Rule (SATR) in the 
vicinity of Luke Air Force Base (Luke) which requires aircraft 
operating under visual flight rules (VFR) to establish two-way radio 
communication with the Luke Radar Approach Control (RAPCON) prior to 
entering the SATR area and maintain communication while operating in 
the area. The SATR is active during official daylight hours Monday 
through Friday while Luke pilot flight training is underway, as 
broadcast on the local Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS), 
and other times by Notice to Airmen (NOTAM). This action is necessary 
to address reported near midair collisions (NMACs) in the area around 
Luke and will help reduce the potential for midair collisions in the 
vicinity of Luke.

DATES: This amendment is effective May 6, 2010.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ken McElroy, Airspace and Rules Group, 
Office of System Operations Airspace and AIM, AJR-33 Federal Aviation 
Administration, 800 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591; 
telephone: (202) 267-8783. E-mail: Kenneth.McElroy@faa.gov. For legal 
questions concerning this final rule contact the Office of Chief 
Counsel, Regulations Division, Air Traffic & Certification of Airman 
Law Branch, AGC-240 Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence 
Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 267-3073.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Authority for This Rulemaking

    The FAA's authority to issue rules regarding aviation safety is 
found in Title 49 of the United States Code. Subtitle I, section 106, 
describes the authority of the FAA Administrator, including the 
authority to issue, rescind, and revise regulations. Subtitle VII, 
Aviation Programs, describes, in more detail, the scope of the agency's 
authority.
    This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in 
subtitle VII, part A, subpart I, chapter 401, section 40103(b), which 
allows the Administrator to regulate the use of the navigable airspace 
necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of 
airspace. Moreover, subtitle VII, part A, subpart III, chapter 447, 
section 44701(c) authorizes the Administrator to regulate air commerce 
in a way that helps to reduce or eliminate the possibility or 
recurrence of accidents in air transportation. This change is within 
the scope of our authority and is a reasonable and necessary exercise 
of our statutory obligations.

Background

    Luke Air Force Base (Luke) is home to the 56th Fighter Wing, the 
United States Air Force's (USAF's) largest fighter wing. Since 1941, 
Luke has trained pilots and other aircrew members for America's 
frontline fighter aircraft. Today, over 200 F-16s conduct more than 
201,000 annual operations, and most of these operations are for student 
training.
    Situated beneath the Phoenix Class B Airspace Area, the Luke 
terminal area consists of Class D airspace. The Phoenix Deer Valley 
Airport (DVT), (the nation's third busiest general aviation (GA) 
airport in 2004 and second busiest in 2008), is within 5 nautical miles 
of the Luke terminal airspace. There are two flight schools and two 
fixed base operators located at DVT, and the flight schools conduct 
training in the vicinity of Luke.
    Alert Area A-231 is located adjacent to, and west of, Luke. Pilots 
conduct a large volume of jet training operations in Alert Area A-231. 
The USAF requires military pilots to establish communication with the 
Luke Radar Approach Control (RAPCON) and to be alert when flying in 
Alert Area A-231. Pilots of civil aircraft are not required to 
establish communication with the Luke RAPCON during transit. The USAF 
Flight Safety Office at Luke points out that reported NMACs are 
approximately 3 per quarter of a year, and each occurrence affects 
multiple aircraft in the same formation. The significant number of 
NMACs between Luke F-16s and VFR aircraft indicates VFR pilots are not 
avoiding this area of concentrated student jet transition training.
    Operational problems affecting safety in the Luke terminal airspace 
area are acute and include complex and voluminous traffic, aircraft 
congestion, terrain that constrains aircraft operations, and the 
uncontrolled mix of instrument flight rules (IFR) and VFR traffic. Luke 
RAPCON traffic counts show a mix of military F-16 aircraft operations, 
GA traffic operations, and some civil air carrier operations. F-16 
aircraft operate at significantly higher airspeeds than civil GA 
traffic, normally 200+ knots faster on arrival and 250+ knots faster on 
departure. This difference in airspeed creates extreme closure rates 
between converging F-16 and GA aircraft. In addition, complexity is 
increased because GA pilots often do not detect all the aircraft in a 
military flight formation. Student pilot training in the F-16 aircraft, 
combined with student flight training in GA aircraft, also increases 
the potential for a near midair collision.
    The average number of conflicts between controlled and uncontrolled 
aircraft has increased since 2000. In the five year period from 2000 to 
2005, there were 76 NMACs reported. In the two year period from 2006 to 
2008, 58 NMACs were reported. Aircraft track data modeling tools 
indicate a significant volume of GA traffic crossing Luke's primary 
instrument final approach course. This data indicates a direct 
correlation between NMAC events and the proximity/flight patterns of GA 
traffic operating out of DVT. Data track analysis also shows GA traffic 
from Goodyear Airport (GYR) and Glendale Airport (GEU) crossing the 
final approach course and departure path for Runway 21 at Luke. For 
additional information regarding the Luke data track analysis go to: 
http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ato/service_units/systemops/aaim/organizations/airspace_rules/.
    There are a number of prominent landmarks the GA community uses 
when operating VFR. Two of these landmarks are the Glendale Arrowhead 
Mall and the Peoria Power Plant/Substation, which are close to the Luke 
Runway 21 final approach course. Luke F-16s use the Peoria Power plant 
as a visual aid for turning to the final approach course when 
conducting formation landings. Also, many of the flight schools use the 
Proving Grounds, located approximately 5 miles north of the Luke 
Auxiliary Field, for conducting

[[Page 69273]]

practice aircraft operations. Aircraft operations in the vicinity of 
the Proving Grounds can conflict with the radar pattern for the Luke 
Auxiliary Field. Use of these prominent VFR landmarks by GA traffic and 
others results in conflicts with the IFR and VFR patterns of Luke F-
16s.
    Over the years, the USAF has been educating the local aviation 
community about serious operational problems, including air traffic 
congestion, and the uncontrolled mix of IFR and VFR traffic, which 
impact safety around Luke. At first, the USAF addressed these problems 
by making pilots at local airports and flight schools aware of the 
issue and urging aircraft operators to use various traffic services 
that could make operations in the area safer. Although the ongoing 
educational efforts had a temporary impact on the number of NMACs and 
led to a slight reduction of near misses, there continues to be an 
average of one reported NMAC per month. The USAF finally concluded that 
safety problems at Luke were so acute they sought a rulemaking 
solution.
    Prior to filing a petition with the FAA, the USAF provided its 
rulemaking petition to interested airspace user groups, elected 
officials, and others. The USAF submitted its petition for rulemaking 
to the FAA on July 21, 2006, along with the comments it received and 
USAF responses. The USAF petitioned the FAA to establish a SATR in the 
vicinity of Luke which would require pilots, among other things, to 
obtain an air traffic clearance to operate in the area (FAA-2006-25459-
1). The USAF believed the growing amount of VFR traffic combined with a 
high volume of military air traffic, as well as the number of NMACs 
occurring in the Phoenix West Valley, fully justified such an action. 
Local mayors, Members of Congress, and U.S. Senators, as well as many 
aviation organizations, such as Pan Am International Flight Academy, 
Westwind School of Aeronautics, Oxford Airline Training Center, Airline 
Training Center Arizona, Inc., and WESTMARC (a regional coalition of 
business, government, education and community organizations), endorsed 
the petition and strongly supported the action.
    The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and local pilot 
associations, including the Deer Valley Pilots Association (DVPA) and 
the Arizona Pilots Association (APA), responded to the USAF by opposing 
any action that would require air traffic clearances to operate in the 
area. The associations maintained the near midair problem could be 
solved through more education and more robust charting notations about 
avoiding the Luke area during its peak operational hours.
    After analyzing the petition and the initial response of the 
aviation community it generated, the FAA determined that proposing a 
SATR in the area had the potential to significantly reduce safety 
problems in the vicinity of Luke. However, instead of requiring an air 
traffic clearance to operate in the area, the FAA assessed that a 
simple two-way radio communication requirement for pilots operating 
around Luke would reduce the NMAC risk.

Summary of the NPRM

    On September 26, 2008, a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) was 
published (73 FR 55788) which proposed establishment of a Special Air 
Traffic Rule, in the vicinity of Luke Air Force Base (AFB), AZ. A 
technical correction was issued (73 FR 60996) October 15, 2008, to 
correct the docket number and extend the comment period. The FAA 
proposed that operators conducting VFR operations establish two-way 
radio communication with the Luke RAPCON prior to entering the Luke 
SATR area, and maintain communication while operating in the area, at 
certain times, and otherwise by NOTAM. The FAA sought to address 
reported NMACs in the area around Luke and to reduce the potential for 
NMACs. Interested parties were invited to participate in the rulemaking 
effort by submitting written comments on the proposal, and the comment 
period closed December 15, 2008. An analysis of the comments and the 
FAA's response are in the ``Discussion of the Final Rule'' section.

Summary of the Final Rule

    This action establishes a Special Air Traffic Rule in the vicinity 
of Luke mandating a two-way communication requirement for VFR operators 
effective upon publication of the Phoenix (PHX) Terminal Area Chart and 
the PHX VFR Sectional Aeronautical Charts scheduled for May 6, 2010. 
The FAA has determined that additional safeguards for flight operations 
are necessary in the vicinity of Luke and this rule is necessary to 
reduce the potential for midair collisions between military and 
civilian pilots operating under VFR.
    The final rule and the proposed rule are similar except the FAA 
will move the east boundary of the Luke Terminal area approximately one 
mile to the west in the vicinity of the Arrowhead Mall to accommodate 
straight in arrivals for runway 19 at GEU. The FAA is clarifying that 
only operators of aircraft not equipped with an operational radio may 
make advance transit arrangements with the air traffic control (ATC) 
facility at Luke AFB, which is consistent with the NPRM. When 
discussing the ATIS, and in section 93.176 of this final rule, the FAA 
has substituted the word ``broadcast'' for ``advertised.'' When the 
Luke NPRM was published (73 FR 55792, September 26, 2008) the FAA 
proposed to codify it as subpart N to part 93. Subsequently, another 
final rule was published (73 FR 60544, October 10, 2008) that used 
Subpart N. Therefore, the Luke subpart is now designated as Subpart O 
to part 93.

Discussion of the Final Rule

    The FAA is amending Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) 
part 93 to establish a SATR in the vicinity of Luke that requires 
aircraft operating under VFR to establish two-way radio communication 
with the Luke RAPCON prior to entering the SATR area and maintain 
communication while operating in the area.
    A direct communication requirement is a cost-effective solution and 
does not impose a significant burden on aircraft operating in, or 
transiting, the airspace around Luke. It allows the GA community 
unrestricted access to the area for student pilots enrolled at GA 
flight schools in the vicinity of Luke. The alternative is to continue 
to rely on the Air Force's educational and awareness program, which has 
not resulted in a significant reduction in the number of conflicts and 
NMACs.
    Currently the Luke RAPCON provides radar advisory services to GA 
aircraft on request, but safety can be significantly heightened with 
the full participation of all aircraft operating within the vicinity of 
the Luke terminal area in a communication requirement. A communication 
requirement provides an additional safety margin and increases the 
protection of both military and GA operations by providing Luke 
controllers advance notice of VFR aircraft transiting or operating 
within the designated area. When pilots operating VFR take advantage of 
the available advisory services, they are issued timely traffic 
advisories and assistance while in the area.
    Luke will provide continuous information on the status of the SATR 
for flight crews both in flight and on the ground via landline and 
ATIS. This rule allows pilots flying VFR to access the active SATR area 
once communication is established with Luke RAPCON. A clearance is not 
required. The acceptance of flight following services by VFR aircraft 
is recommended, but not required. Aircraft not equipped with an

[[Page 69274]]

operational radio can make alternate arrangements by contacting the ATC 
facility at Luke AFB in advance of the proposed operation.
    The FAA received 95 comments in response to the NPRM. Of the 95 
comments received, 78 did not identify any specific issue, but were 
critical of the NPRM in general. Some commenters had concerns regarding 
additional airspace complexity, while others felt the SATR created 
proficiency-training issues and added frequency change requirements. 
Seventeen commenters, including Members of Congress and local mayors 
support the proposal as a necessary tool to reduce the potential for 
NMACs. Below is a more detailed discussion of the rule broken down into 
issue areas addressed by commenters. It reflects the comments we 
received and the FAA's response.

Data and Nonrulemaking Solutions

    The Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association (AOPA) questioned the 
currency of the USAF NMAC information. AOPA asserted that the ``USAF 
data was obsolete and stale, and was measured before industry efforts 
to alleviate the problem.''
    The FAA does not agree. Between 2000 and 2005 the aviation 
community and the USAF were working to alleviate the NMAC problems in 
the vicinity of Luke and there were 76 reported NMACs. Of these NMACs, 
84% of the documented occurrences were between F-16 and GA aircraft and 
none of the GA aircraft were in communication with the Luke RAPCON. In 
December 2008, the FAA and the USAF initiated a review of 58 NMAC 
reports on file at the Luke safety office which occurred during 2006 to 
2008. The review disclosed 10 NMACs in 2006, 25 in 2007, and 23 in 
2008; 90%, 76% and 86% respectively were between F-16 and GA aircraft. 
Because of the significant number of NMACs and the high concentration 
of mixed high performance military and GA aircraft in the same area, 
the FAA continues to have a safety concern.
    AOPA, pilots associations, and others continue to oppose a 
rulemaking solution and maintain that education, more working groups 
and additional study should be used. Commenters suggested the FAA form 
working groups comprised of representatives from government as well as 
aviation communities, to study problems that the proposed SATR is 
expected to solve. Most of these commenters believe this group should 
be actively involved in the development of workable solutions. One 
aviation organization thought the user forums would pay specific 
attention to user comments in developing the SATR, better serving the 
requirements and safety needs of all airspace users.
    The FAA does not agree. The FAA reviewed and considered all 
comments and recommendations in the preparation of the NPRM and this 
final rule. While developing the proposal, the FAA specifically 
considered input from AOPA, and other local pilot associations, such as 
the DVPA and the APA. These organizations stressed pilot education, and 
more robust charting, with no clearance or flight plan requirements. 
The FAA agreed that a clearance requirement was too restrictive, and 
determined that a communication requirement would provide the adequate 
level of additional safety to increase protection of both military and 
GA aircraft.
    The FAA determined that reliance on nonrulemaking alternatives to 
provide an acceptable level of safety is no longer appropriate. The FAA 
does not agree that additional education, outreach, working groups and 
more robust charting would provide an adequate level of additional 
safety. As discussed in the NPRM and the background section of this 
final rule, the USAF has conducted education and outreach activities 
with the affected aviation users over the years. In the last three 
years, the USAF has held numerous meetings in the Phoenix Valley 
informing the public of its growing safety concerns. These concerns 
center around potential conflicts between military and GA VFR traffic 
transiting the Luke area and conflicts between aircraft turning on 
final approach to Runway 21. As discussed previously, the FAA assessed 
that a rulemaking solution was required to address the number of NMACs, 
the high volume of military and GA activity in the area, and to reduce 
the NMAC risk.

Size, Boundaries and Classification

    The FAA received comments addressing the Luke SATR area. AOPA and 
the Aviation Safety Advisory Group of Arizona stated that the Luke SATR 
closely resembles Class C airspace communication requirements for VFR 
aircraft entry, but may not meet the established criteria to create 
Class C airspace. Others stated that the airspace is nonstandard or a 
new category of airspace. One commenter stated that the FAA was 
creating, in effect, sterile or restricted airspace.
    The FAA does not agree. Luke does not meet the enplaned or 
instrument approach requirements for Class C airspace. The only 
similarity between the SATR and Class C airspace is the requirement for 
operators to establish two-way radio contact with ATC prior to entering 
the area and to maintain contact while in the area. The SATR offers 
flight following services to pilots on a strictly voluntary basis. 
Conversely, Class C services include among other things, separation, 
traffic advisories and safety alerts between IFR and VFR aircraft, and 
mandatory traffic advisories and safety alerts between VFR aircraft. 
Class C services are required for all aircraft operating within Class C 
airspace. The NPRM did not propose to establish, and this final rule 
does not establish, Class C airspace at Luke or within the SATR area.
    The SATR does not define a new category of airspace, it is a 
procedural requirement for the management of aircraft by ATC. The Luke 
SATR requires direct communication with Luke RAPCON before entry and 
while operating in the designated area. The designated area and 
procedures will be contained in 14 CFR part 93 which prescribes special 
air traffic rules necessary for the safe and efficient management of 
air traffic. The SATR area is in no way similar to restricted airspace 
as defined in 14 CFR part 73. Restricted airspace is established to 
confine or segregate activities considered hazardous to 
nonparticipating aircraft, and within which flight is not prohibited, 
but is subject to restriction. The SATR is not sterile nor does it 
prohibit or limit aircraft access, so long as the aircraft operator 
complies with simple communications requirements of this rule. It was 
developed to enhance safety and awareness within an area where high 
volumes of military and GA air traffic exist. Both the NPRM and the 
final rule continue to allow GA access to the SATR area and the FAA 
neither proposed, nor implemented, restricted or sterile airspace.
    AOPA, the APA, and other commenters stated the proposed SATR would 
derogate rather than improve safety. Specific concerns were pilots 
concentrating on their instruments and placing too much reliance upon 
ATC rather than ``see and avoid,'' and the compression of air traffic 
into narrow corridors. Commenters claimed that compression may increase 
the impact of aircraft noise on underlying communities and noise 
sensitive areas. Commenters stated that the SATR area design is too 
``chopped up'' with the floor varying in altitudes across different 
sub-areas, and at times, increased ``funneling'' of aircraft into small 
vertical corridors at lower, and less safe, altitudes over populated 
areas and terrain.

[[Page 69275]]

    The FAA does not agree. Direct and continuous communication 
requirements for aircraft operating in the vicinity of the Luke 
terminal airspace area would reduce the number of conflicts and the 
NMAC potential. Continuous communication provides controllers with the 
ability to exchange timely and accurate aircraft position information 
for both military and civil pilots operating in the area thus enhancing 
the pilots' see and avoid capability.
    The SATR area uses prominent geographical landmarks to define the 
separate sub-areas that comprise the whole configuration. These sub-
area boundaries are depicted on both the PHX Terminal Area Chart and 
the VFR Sectional Aeronautical Chart to assist the pilot with basic 
navigation. A uniform floor was considered and rejected because it 
would have required a larger area than was needed to protect aircraft 
arriving and departing Luke.
    Regarding perceived issues of compression or ``funneling'' of air 
traffic, pilots have two alternatives. First, pilots may participate in 
SATR services and thus not be limited to flying below the base of each 
area. Second, a pilot may deviate 2,000 feet horizontally from the 
obstacle or populated area. FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 91-36D, Visual 
Flight Rules (VFR) Flight Near Noise-Sensitive Areas, recommends 
flights remain above 2,000 feet MSL, but the AC provisions do not apply 
when they conflict with regulations, ATC instructions, or when a pilot 
believes operating below 2,000 feet is necessary for the safety of the 
flight. The SATR area does not require a clearance and was not 
conceived or designed to force aircraft into circumnavigating the area 
but pilots can circumnavigate the area if necessary. The area is not 
restrictive or prohibitive and does not force aircraft into an unsafe 
operating mode. Pilots who choose not to contact the Luke RAPCON and 
avoid the SATR area do so voluntarily.
    The FAA received comments suggesting changes to the boundaries, 
floors and ceilings of the Luke SATR. One commenter stated that the 
northeast corner of the proposed SATR area is likely to cause 
unintentional incursions by aircraft executing a straight-in approach 
to Runway 19 at GEU. These approaches typically start over the 
Arrowhead Mall which is very close to the northeast corner of the 
proposed SATR area.
    The FAA shares this concern and asked the USAF to reevaluate the 
proposed boundary in the vicinity of the Arrowhead Mall. The USAF and 
the FAA determined that relocating the boundary would not impact the 
final approach path to runway 21 at Luke. In this final rule the FAA 
has moved the SATR boundary approximately 1 mile west of the Arrowhead 
Mall to protect the straight-in approach to runway 19 at GEU. The FAA 
will not move the boundary 2 miles to the west, as suggested by the 
comment, because the airspace is necessary to protect the final 
approach path to runway 21.
    Another commenter suggested eliminating the proposed SATR area and 
expanding the airport traffic area and control zone to the northwest by 
5 miles. The FAA does not agree. In 1993, the FAA reclassified the 
regulatory structure of the National Airspace System (NAS). This was 
done primarily to more closely align the airspace in the United States 
along International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) guidelines. The 
airspace previously identified as Airport Traffic Areas and Control 
Zones were reclassified at that time to Class D Airspace Areas. FAA 
Order 7400.2G, Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters, provides 
guidance on the design of Class D airspace nationally. It states that 
vertical and lateral limits should be standardized and shall be 
designed to contain IFR arrival operations. The current Luke Class D 
airspace area varies from 4.4 miles to a 5.6 mile radius of Luke and is 
configured in accordance with the above mentioned guidelines. Adding an 
additional 5 miles to the existing Class D airspace area is not 
supported by current design criteria, and has no bearing on the scope 
of issues addressed by the SATR area.
    Another commenter stated that the FAA should establish VFR 
corridors through the SATR area and allow pilots in the VFR corridors 
to operate without establishing and maintaining two-way radio 
communication with the Luke RAPCON. The FAA does not agree. The USAF 
sought an improvement in air safety when it petitioned the FAA to 
address the problem of NMACs in the proposed SATR area. The suggestion 
that pilots should be allowed to continue their current practice of not 
contacting the Luke RAPCON and not exchanging position information 
would negate the basic purpose of the SATR, which is to require two-way 
communication with Luke RAPCON to improve safety.
    Another commenter believed that the segment of the proposed SATR 
area west of DVT and north of Luke that has a floor of 3,000' and a 
ceiling of 4,000', will encourage pilots of aircraft departing or 
arriving GEU and/or DVT to under fly or circumnavigate increasing the 
concentration of traffic in this area. He suggested raising the floor 
to 4,000' and the ceiling to 5,000' to allow aircraft to avoid the SATR 
area by operating at 3,500' and 4,500' below it.
    The FAA does not agree. First, very few aircraft currently 
circumnavigate the airspace around Luke and a large percentage contact 
Luke and take part in the flight following services offered by Luke 
RAPCON. Although there may be an increase in the number of aircraft 
that would circumnavigate the SATR, the FAA does not expect the 
increase to be significant or burdensome. Second, aircraft operators 
can establish communication and operate within the SATR rather than 
navigate out of their way to avoid it. The SATR area was designed to 
protect aircraft on an instrument approach to Runway 21L/R. The floor 
of this area was designated at 3,000' which provides a 500' buffer 
between the lowest altitude in use on the instrument approach and any 
aircraft transiting or operating just beneath the SATR.
    Another commenter suggested modifying or eliminating the segment of 
the proposed SATR labeled West Sector North which has a floor of 3,000' 
and a ceiling of 6,000'. He stated that this area intrudes into rising 
terrain in the northwest and would force aircraft into the foothills if 
pilots are trying to under fly this area. The FAA does not agree. This 
area was designed to protect the Luke auxiliary field traffic pattern 
for aircraft conducting touch and go landings. The northwest point of 
this area is the junction of Carefree Highway and US60. The area is 
remote and there were not many landmarks that could be used as visual 
references. A small portion of this area on the northern side intrudes 
into rising terrain. Pilots may avoid the rising terrain by 
establishing contact with Luke RAPCON and transiting the SATR or 
circumnavigating the area.
    Another commenter stated that the 2,100' floor of the SATR area 
just west of GYR does not allow transition for aircraft wishing to 
overfly GYR Class D or aircraft departing/arriving GYR wishing to avoid 
the SATR area. The FAA is establishing the 2,100' floor to protect Luke 
aircraft departing/arriving runway 03 L/R. Aircraft that do not wish to 
contact Luke RAPCON for use of the SATR area will have to 
circumnavigate this area. Letters of Agreement (LOA) will be entered 
into among Luke RAPCON and GYR, DVT and GEU Towers. The LOA will 
outline special operating procedures to create a seamless environment 
for GA operations. Departure and arrival procedures to and from the 
SATR

[[Page 69276]]

boundaries and the airports, will be referenced in the LOA. These 
procedures will allow GA operators to proceed on course while movement 
information is passed between ATC facilities. This will negate abrupt 
frequency changes and not having enough time to establish two-way 
communication with the RAPCON prior to entering the SATR.
    One of the commenters was concerned that the SATR area would 
infringe on, or virtually eliminate, airspace used today for GA pilot 
training. That is not the case. The SATR area does not replace, 
eliminate, or change any of the existing airspace structure or 
operating rules; it only adds a requirement for two-way radio 
communication with Luke RAPCON prior to entry and while in the area. 
The SATR does not prohibit or restrict aircraft access for any purpose 
including transit and/or training.

RAPCON Staffing and SATR Area Hours of Operation

    Several commenters addressed RAPCON staffing, communication 
coverage and access to the area. The APA and others do not believe that 
Luke RAPCON can maintain adequate staffing to provide communication 
coverage and, as a result, GA aircraft will be denied access to the 
area. AOPA, APA and other commenters were concerned about frequency 
congestions and one commenter stated that during periods of peak 
traffic, Luke RAPCON may not be able to immediately respond to aircraft 
wishing to establish two-way radio contact for entry into the SATR 
area, thereby denying aircraft access to the area. Another commenter 
said that Luke radio coverage may not be sufficient for all the 
airspace encompassed by the SATR area; especially the Luke ATIS.
    The FAA does not agree. Staffing and equipment resources are 
already in place to support the Luke SATR area. Staffing and equipment 
levels are adequate to provide all services without impacting safety or 
efficiency and the USAF and the FAA do not expect staffing to be an 
issue for Luke. LOAs and procedures will be developed to operate the 
Luke SATR efficiently. However, should circumstances arise that 
indicate a need for additional resources, action will be taken to 
obtain them.
    The ability to provide any ATC service is limited by many factors, 
such as the volume of traffic, frequency of congestion, controller 
workload, or other higher priority duties that may not be apparent to a 
pilot requesting access to the SATR area. Aircraft attempting to 
establish two-way radio contact with ATC for entry into the SATR area 
will be handled on a first-come, first-serve basis and as quickly as 
the controller can safely provide the service. Currently a large 
percentage of VFR operators contact Luke and exchange position 
information. Though there may be an increase in the number of aircraft 
establishing communication, the FAA does not expect the increase to be 
significant.
    FAA's ATC experience has been that frequency congestion does occur 
at peak demand periods at most major airports. When such congestion 
occurs, resource adjustments are made on-site. Such adjustments include 
resectoring and assigning selected personnel. The USAF recognizes the 
potential exists for a need to establish additional controller 
positions if delays during peak demand become a problem, and will 
respond accordingly.
    Luke's existing radio coverage is sufficient to cover the area 
defined in the SATR including the ATIS. The USAF has installed 
additional transceivers on the White Tank Mountains radio relay site 
that enhance the current radio coverage on the existing frequencies due 
to the height and placement of the new transceivers.
    Some commenters stated that the operating rules for the SATR were 
not clearly defined in the NPRM. They requested clarification about 
whether a clearance from Luke was required, and if separation services, 
including assigned headings, would be provided to GA aircraft. Further, 
they asked if routine traffic advisories would be given, and if a 
transponder was required.
    As stated in the NPRM and final rule, an air traffic clearance is 
not required to operate in the SATR area. The final rule requires 
pilots to establish two-way radio communication with Luke RAPCON prior 
to entering the SATR area, and to maintain communication while 
operating in the area. Once two-way communication is established, 
flight following service is available upon request from Luke RAPCON. 
Pilots of those aircraft not equipped with radios, or with inoperable 
radios, can make advance arrangements with the Luke RAPCON to 
coordinate transit through the area. The USAF requires use of flight 
following service for military aircraft. The FAA recommends use of 
flight following services by GA. Those aircraft participating in flight 
following services are provided traffic advisory service as they 
transition the area. Separation services and headings will not be 
provided, and this rule does not change the current transponder 
requirements in 14 CFR 91.215.
    Commenters had concerns about the Luke SATR's hours of operation. 
One stated that the proposed hours of operation were not clear. Another 
observed that the Luke RAPCON could open and close for just one flight 
and asked whether the SATR would be activated for that situation. 
Another noticed that the SATR was not active at night. Others were 
concerned about access to the SATR area when the Luke RAPCON is not 
open.
    The NPRM and the final rule both state the Luke SATR is designated 
during official daylight hours Monday through Friday, during flight 
training operations. The area may be activated at other times by NOTAM 
when necessary to support Luke flight training. Status of Luke flight 
training activities will be broadcast on Luke, DVT, GYR, and GEU local 
ATIS frequencies. The Luke ATIS also can be contacted via a local 
telephone call. Luke does occasionally open outside of normal hours to 
handle VIP or other transient aircraft movement, but the SATR area will 
not be activated routinely for those limited situations.
    The SATR area is not necessary during nighttime operations 
primarily for three reasons. First, Luke's primary auxiliary airfield 
is closed at night which significantly reduces the number of F-16 
aircraft transitioning between the auxiliary field and Luke. Second, 
aircraft are more easily visible at greater distances at night, thereby 
allowing pilots more reasonable reaction time for conflict avoidance 
with high performance aircraft. Third, the SATR area would be extremely 
difficult to navigate at night when visual landmarks are either not 
visible or not easily distinguishable. Therefore, when limited Luke 
flight training activities are conducted at night the SATR will not be 
active and GA pilots will have access to the area without a requirement 
to communicate with the Luke RAPCON.

Gliders

    Pilots from the glider community expressed concern that their 
operations would be unfairly impacted. They stated that it was not 
clear that sailplanes without transponders would be able to operate 
within the SATR area.
    The FAA agrees that clarification about glider operations is 
needed. In that regard, the USAF has worked with the glider community 
to address their operational concerns. The USAF met with the Pleasant 
Valley Sailplane Association (PVSA) personnel to discuss the glider 
community concerns. The USAF and the PVSA agreed to enter into an LOA 
covering glider operation to allow glider operations to continue. The

[[Page 69277]]

Luke RAPCON plans to designate an assigned beacon code for the tow 
planes. When the first tow plane of the morning goes up on the discrete 
code, the Luke RAPCON will show the glider area active and provide 
general traffic advisories throughout the course of the day while the 
area is in use. The glider operators will call the Luke RAPCON at the 
termination of the day's glider activity.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)) requires 
the FAA consider the impact of paperwork and other information 
collection burdens imposed on the public. We have determined there is 
no current or new requirement for information collection associated 
with this amendment.

International Compatibility

    In keeping with U.S. obligations under the Convention on 
International Civil Aviation, it is FAA policy to comply with 
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and 
Recommended Practices to the maximum extent practicable. The FAA has 
determined that there are no ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices 
that correspond to these regulations.

Regulatory Evaluation, Regulatory Flexibility Determination, 
International Trade Impact Assessment, and Unfunded Mandates Assessment

    Changes to Federal regulations must undergo several economic 
analyses. First, Executive Order 12866 directs that each Federal agency 
shall propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination 
that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its costs. Second, 
the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-354) requires 
agencies to analyze the economic impact of regulatory changes on small 
entities. Third, the Trade Agreements Act (Pub. L. 96-39) prohibits 
agencies from setting standards that create unnecessary obstacles to 
the foreign commerce of the United States. In developing U.S. 
standards, this Trade Act requires agencies to consider international 
standards and, where appropriate, that they be the basis of U.S. 
standards. Fourth, the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 
104-4) requires agencies to prepare a written assessment of the costs, 
benefits, and other effects of proposed or final rules that include a 
Federal mandate likely to result in the expenditure by State, local, or 
tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 
million or more annually (adjusted for inflation with base year of 
1995). This portion of the preamble summarizes the FAA's analysis of 
the economic impacts of this final rule. We suggest readers seeking 
greater detail read the full regulatory evaluation, a copy of which we 
have placed in the docket for this rulemaking.
    In conducting these analyses, FAA has determined that this final 
rule: (1) Has benefits that justify its costs, (2) is not an 
economically ``significant regulatory action'' as defined in section 
3(f) of Executive Order 12866, (3) is not ``significant'' as defined in 
DOT's Regulatory Policies and Procedures; (4) will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities; 
(5) will not create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of 
the United States; and (6) will not impose an unfunded mandate on 
state, local, or tribal governments, or on the private sector by 
exceeding the threshold identified above. These analyses are summarized 
below.

Costs and Benefits of the Rule

    The FAA believes that this rule will impose minimal costs on VFR 
pilots of GA aircraft, Luke AFB RAPCON and negligible cost on the FAA. 
The rule will enhance aviation safety by reducing the risk of a midair 
collision in the SATR area. As a result, the FAA believes this rule is 
cost-beneficial.

Regulatory Flexibility Determination

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-354) (RFA) 
establishes ``as a principle of regulatory issuance that agencies shall 
endeavor, consistent with the objectives of the rule and of applicable 
statutes, to fit regulatory and informational requirements to the scale 
of the businesses, organizations, and governmental jurisdictions 
subject to regulation. To achieve this principle, agencies are required 
to solicit and consider flexible regulatory proposals and to explain 
the rationale for their actions to ensure that such proposals are given 
serious consideration.'' The RFA covers a wide range of small entities, 
including small businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and small 
governmental jurisdictions.
    Agencies must perform a review to determine whether a rule will 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. If the agency determines that it will, the agency must 
prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis as described in the RFA.
    However, if an agency determines that a rule is not expected to 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities, section 605(b) of the RFA provides that the head of the 
agency may so certify and a regulatory flexibility analysis is not 
required. The certification must include a statement providing the 
factual basis for this determination, and the reasoning should be 
clear.
    This final rule will impose only negligible costs on individuals 
operating GA aircraft in the Luke AFB vicinity under VFR. Most 
operators of GA aircraft are individuals, not small business entities, 
and are not included when performing a regulatory flexibility analysis. 
However, flight schools, as well as GA operators flying for business 
reasons, are considered small business entities. The FAA assumes 
affected instructors and operators use aircraft equipped with two-way 
radios, and therefore will not incur any extra costs.
    Therefore, as the FAA Administrator, I certify that this final rule 
will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities.

International Trade Analysis

    The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (Pub. L. 96-39), as amended by the 
Uruguay Round Agreements Act (Pub. L. 103-465), prohibits Federal 
agencies from establishing standards or engaging in related activities 
that create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United 
States. Pursuant to these Acts, the establishment of standards is not 
considered an unnecessary obstacle to the foreign commerce of the 
United States, so long as the standard has a legitimate domestic 
objective, such as the protection of safety, and does not operate in a 
manner that excludes imports that meet this objective. The statute also 
requires consideration of international standards and, where 
appropriate, that they be the basis for U.S. standards. The FAA has 
assessed the potential effect of this final rule and determined that it 
will have only a domestic impact and therefore will not create 
unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United States.

Unfunded Mandates Assessment

    Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-
4) requires each Federal agency to prepare a written statement 
assessing the effects of any Federal mandate in a proposed or final 
agency rule that may result in an expenditure of $100 million or more 
(adjusted annually for inflation with the base year 1995) in any one 
year by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by 
the private sector; such a mandate is deemed to be a ``significant 
regulatory action.'' The level equivalent of $100 million in CY 1995, 
adjusted for inflation to CY 2007 levels by the

[[Page 69278]]

Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) as published by 
the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $136.1 million. This final rule does 
not contain such a mandate. The requirements of Title II do not apply.

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    The FAA has analyzed this final rule under the principles and 
criteria of Executive Order 13132, Federalism. We determined that this 
action will not have a substantial direct effect on the States, or the 
relationship between the Federal Government and the States, or on the 
distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of 
government, and, therefore, does not have federalism implications.

Environmental Analysis

    FAA Order 1050.1E identifies FAA actions that are categorically 
excluded from preparation of an environmental assessment or 
environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) in the absence of extraordinary circumstances. The FAA has 
determined this proposed rulemaking action qualifies for the 
categorical exclusion identified in paragraph 312f and involves no 
extraordinary circumstances.

Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or 
Use

    The FAA analyzed this final rule under Executive Order 13211, 
Actions Concerning Regulations that Significantly Affect Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use (May 18, 2001). We have determined that it is not 
a ``significant energy action'' under the executive order because it is 
not a ``significant regulatory action'' and is not likely to have a 
significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of 
energy.

Availability of Rulemaking Documents

    You can get an electronic copy of rulemaking documents using the 
Internet by--
    1. Searching the Federal eRulemaking Portal (http://www.regulations.gov);
    2. Visiting the FAA's Regulations and Policies Web page at http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/ or
    3. Accessing the Government Printing Office's Web page at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html.
    You can also get a copy by sending a request to the Federal 
Aviation Administration, Office of Rulemaking, ARM-1, 800 Independence 
Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591, or by calling (202) 267-9680. Make 
sure to identify the amendment number or docket number of this 
rulemaking.
    Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all comments 
received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's 
complete Privacy Act statement in the Federal Register published on 
April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70; Pages 19477-78) or you may visit 
http://DocketsInfo.dot.gov.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 
1996 requires FAA to comply with small entity requests for information 
or advice about compliance with statutes and regulations within its 
jurisdiction. If you are a small entity and you have a question 
regarding this document, you may contact your local FAA official, or 
the person listed under the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT heading at 
the beginning of the preamble. You can find out more about SBREFA on 
the Internet at http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/sbre_act/.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 93

    Air Traffic Control, Airports, Alaska, Navigation, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements.

 The Amendment

0
In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation Administration 
amends Chapter I of Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:

PART 93--SPECIAL AIR TRAFFIC RULES

0
1. The authority citation for part 93 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40103, 40106, 40109, 40113, 44502, 
44514, 44701, 44719, 46301.

0
2. Add Subpart O to part 93 to read as follows:
Subpart O--Special Flight Rules in the Vicinity of Luke AFB, AZ
Sec.
93.175 Applicability.
93.176 Description of area.
93.177 Operations in the Special Air Traffic Rule Area.

Subpart O--Special Flight Rules in the Vicinity of Luke AFB, AZ


Sec.  93.175  Applicability.

    This subpart prescribes a Special Air Traffic Rule for aircraft 
conducting VFR operations in the vicinity of Luke Air Force Base, AZ.


Sec.  93.176  Description of area.

    The Luke Air Force Base, Arizona Terminal Area is designated during 
official daylight hours Monday through Friday while Luke pilot flight 
training is underway, as broadcast on the local Automatic Terminal 
Information Service (ATIS), and other times by Notice to Airmen 
(NOTAM), as follows:
    (a) East Sector:
    (1) South section includes airspace extending from 3,000 feet MSL 
to the base of the overlaying Phoenix Class B airspace bounded by a 
line beginning at: Lat. 33[deg]23'56'' N; Long. 112[deg]28'37'' W; to 
Lat. 33[deg]22'32'' N; Long. 112[deg]37'14'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]25'39'' 
N; Long. 112[deg]37'29'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]31'55'' N; Long. 
112[deg]30'32'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]28'00'' N; Long. 112[deg]28'41'' W; 
to point of beginning.
    (2) South section lower includes airspace extending from 2,100 feet 
MSL to the base of the overlaying Phoenix Class B airspace, excluding 
the Luke Class D airspace area bounded by a line beginning at: Lat. 
33[deg]28'00'' N; Long. 112[deg]28'41'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]23'56'' N; 
Long. 112[deg]28'37'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]27'53'' N; Long. 
112[deg]24'12'' W; to point of beginning.
    (3) Center section includes airspace extending from surface to the 
base of the overlaying Phoenix Class B airspace, excluding the Luke 
Class D airspace area bounded by a line beginning at: Lat. 
33[deg]42'22'' N; Long. 112[deg]19'16'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]38'40'' N; 
Long. 112[deg]14'03'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]27'53'' N; Long. 
112[deg]24'12'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]28'00'' N; Long. 112[deg]28'41'' W; 
to Lat. 33[deg]31'55'' N; Long. 112[deg]30'32'' W; to point of 
beginning.
    (4) The north section includes that airspace extending upward from 
3,000 feet MSL to 4,000 feet MSL, bounded by a line beginning at: Lat. 
33[deg]42'22'' N; Long. 112[deg]19'16'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]46'58'' N; 
Long. 112[deg]16'41'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]44'48'' N; Long. 
112[deg]10'59'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]38'40'' N; Long. 112[deg]14'03'' W; 
to point of beginning.
    (b) West Sector:
    (1) The north section includes that airspace extending upward from 
3,000 feet MSL to 6,000 feet MSL, bounded by a line beginning at: Lat. 
33[deg]51'52'' N; Long. 112[deg]37'54'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]49'34'' N; 
Long. 112[deg]23'34'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]46'58'' N; Long. 
112[deg]16'41'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]42'22'' N; Long. 112[deg]19'16'' W; 
to Lat. 33[deg]39'27'' N; Long. 112[deg]22'27'' W; to point of 
beginning.
    (2) The south section includes that airspace extending upward from 
the surface to 6,000 feet MSL, bounded by a line beginning at: Lat. 
33[deg]39'27'' N; Long. 112[deg]22'27'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]38'06'' N; 
Long. 112[deg]23'51'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]38'07'' N; Long. 
112[deg]28'50'' W; to Lat. 33[deg]39'34'' N; Long. 112[deg]31'39'' W; 
to Lat. 33[deg]39'32'' N; Long. 112[deg]37'36'' W; to Lat. 
33[deg]51'52'' N;

[[Page 69279]]

Long. 112[deg]37'54'' W; to point of beginning.


Sec.  93.177  Operations in the Special Air Traffic Rule Area.

    (a) Unless otherwise authorized by Air Traffic Control (ATC), no 
person may operate an aircraft in flight within the Luke Terminal Area 
designated in Sec.  93.176 unless--
    (1) Before operating within the Luke Terminal area, that person 
establishes radio contact with the Luke RAPCON; and
    (2) That person maintains two-way radio communication with the Luke 
RAPCON or an appropriate ATC facility while within the designated area.
    (b) Requests for deviation from the provisions of this section 
apply only to aircraft not equipped with an operational radio. The 
request must be submitted at least 24 hours before the proposed 
operation to Luke RAPCON.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on December 18, 2009.
J. Randolph Babbitt,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. E9-30938 Filed 12-30-09; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-P